This is the first week of the Red Line South reconstruction project. The normal trains I take to run back to the south side has been shut down for major infrastructure work and that forces many people to have to take shuttlebuses to catch a train. That is the same train that would take you downtown through the State Street subway.
You see the current alignment of the Red Line for the next 5 months almost mimicks a former alignment. Red Line trains from Howard go onto the Green Line tracks to Ashland/63 in the Englewood neighborhood. Before 1993 that was the alignment but then the Red Line South (aka Dan Ryan branch) now connects with Howard when before 1993 it used to connect with the Lake branch and remained on L tracks.
It's been a bit of a treat but still the reconstruction is a bit of an inconvenience, but at least there are some expected benefits. Trains should run faster than they had been because of deterioration tracks, ties, and ballast so all of those components are to be replaced. In addition to that they have to fix drainage, electrical and communication lines as well. Also other stations on the branch will be handicapped accessible and it's also expected to make it much easier to extend the Red Line further south in the city.
At current because the infrastructure wasn't in the best condition and it required constant care it was best to do it right and shut it down for a brief period and just get it all done. Of course what that means is that it won't be necessary to continue to delay passengers to keep doing this necessary work and most of them such as myself have somewhere they need to be at a certain time.
One thing I will say so far is that the shuttlebuses are making good time. If you are riding anytime between 4 AM to 1 AM there are express shuttles that will take you directly to your particular Red Line stop from 69th to 95th. After 1 AM you take a local shuttle which makes all the Red Line stops which takes longer and at that point in the wee hours of the morning I just want to go home!
In any event making a connection whether from shuttlebus to the train or from train to shuttlebus should be nothing less than a breeze. But I hope by October things will be back to normal with a new and improved Dan Ryan Red Line with travel times greatly improved!