Cars 2147-2148, just four years old, make up a two-car Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train pulling into Western/Milwaukee on July 20, 1968. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)
Built by: Pullman Car Co.
Width at Floor: 8'-8"
Width at Windows: 9'-4"
Height over Roof: 12'-0"
Truck centers: 33'-8"
Truck wheelbase: 78"
Coupler: #1 end / #2 end: Form 5 / tubular
Wheel diameter: 28"
Seats: A car / B car: 47 / 51
Weight (w/o passengers): 47,400 lb.
Motors per car 4 GE1250K1 @ 100hp
Balancing speed: 65 mph
Governed speed: 55 mph +
+ The propulsion package, while capable of higher speeds, was limited by the logic of the car controls and the external signal system.
By 1960, all of the old PCC streetcars had been turned into "L" cars and new rolling stock was needed. Following delivery of the last of the 6000-series cars in 1959, the CTA began a period of development and testing. The goal of the program was to develop a modern control system and trucks for high speed rapid transit service. The resulting 2000-series design was put out to bid.
The famous Pullman Car & Manufacturing Company won with an offer of 180 cars (90 married units). High speed operation and new trucks were required, as were fluorescent lights and picture windows. Air conditioning was requested as an option, but actually proved more affordable than thought and was installed. Some of the esthetic details adopted ideas and designs that had been developed for the "new look" buses the CTA had been buying for several years. Because these cars were to have additional features, the decision was made to place these cars in a new family (the High Performance Family) and not require them to trainline with any of the existing cars. The cars included several innovations, including the use of a fiberglass shell as the exterior of the front end of the car (allowing the designers freedom to create a unique sculptured look for the end of the car), a car body structure built around aluminum extrusions for side sills with no conventional center sill, remote-controlled destination signs, and the use of airplane-type floor panels made of end-grain balsa wood laminated between aluminum sheets. The interior used light colors with light blue seat covering and light gray floor covering, leather-grain aluminum wainscot panels, off-white fiberglass window masks and a white patterned ceding.
These 2000-series cars were considered quite successful at the time of their introduction. They averaged 50,000 miles per year. The 180, 2000-series cars occupied the interesting position of being the first new-look, high speed cars and, at the same time, the last cars purchased exclusively with CTA farebox funds. Shortly after the acquisition of the cars, the federal government began making grant assistance available to transit operators for capital improvements. For a time, having 180 cars that could not be trained with any other was quite an operating restriction, but as the High Performance Family grew, it became less and less of an issue.
The 2000s were the first cars to abandon the green and cream color scheme that characterized the "L" for the last few decades. They were delivered with a Mint green and Alpine white scheme (which some 6000s were later painted), but the series soon adopted a platinum/silver mist color with charcoal through the windows to de-emphasize the difference of window size between them and the 2200-series, which they were often paired with in Lake-Dan Ryan service. A few were painted in the bicentennial scheme in the mid-1970s and they were all later painted in the red, white and blue Spirit of Chicago scheme. Except for a few minor periodic modifications, they kept this scheme for the rest of their operational life.
The basic design of the 2000s would be retained for the next thirty years with only minor changes in the succeeding series. Interestingly, the 2000-series had a shorter service life than any other "L" car series in history. Their retirement came earlier than some older 6000- and 1-50 series cars because aspects of their technology presented both operational and maintenance problems in the long-term, which discouraged their use in work service. But, they did achieve a respectable 29 years of transit service. By the beginning of 1994, all the 2000s had been scrapped or otherwise retired from service, about the same time the last of the new 3200-series cars were put into service.
Excerpts from this car history are from Chicago's Rapid Transit, Volume II: Rolling Stock 1947-1976 by the Central Electric Railfans Association. Copyright 1976, CERA. All right reserved.