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Upgrades OK'd for CTA Orange, Brown Line Train Cars

Some 256 Brown and Orange Line CTA rail cars will get new LED signs as part of a “mid-life” overhaul approved Wednesday.

Chicago Transit Authority board members agreed to pay $4.1 million to Axion Technologies for LED signs that will replace the current “roller-curtain” signs on the front and sides of elevated cars that change their text by rolling.

The text on the new LED signs are brighter, with larger text, making them easier for passengers to read, CTA officials said.

Also approved was an $8.26 million contract to Ellcon National for new auxiliary power systems on the Brown and Orange Line cars. The upgrade is needed to power the new LED signs and new air conditioning systems, among other things, that will be added to 256 Orange and Brown Line cars.

The rail cars, called the 3200-series, were the last purchased by the CTA before the system switched to 5000-series cars. The CTA recently retired its oldest cars, with 40 years of wear on them. The 3200 series is about 20 years old.

Work on rebuilding the 256 remaining 3200-series cars will begin in 2015 and cost an estimated $166 million, CTA officials said. It should extend the life of the cars by 10 years, CTA officials said.