After months of testing, the Chicago Transit Authority's first batch of 7000-series railcars will start carrying paying customers this week along the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line. 

The new cars will offer riders a faster, quieter, and smoother commute. Interior enhancements include improved lighting, digital information screens, and bright yellow hand grips for standing passengers (BYO hand sanitizer).

For casual observers, the new trains will be quite easy to spot thanks to bright blue end caps on each railcar as well as redesigned head- and tail-lights. The first examples have been undergoing out-of-service testing since last August to see how the vehicles would react to Chicago winters.

Chicago Transit Authority

"We are proud to introduce you to the first 10 rail cars of our next generation rail fleet," the CTA announced on Wednesday. "Over the next several months, we'll be monitoring the performance of these vehicles as they operate across our system and in a variety of conditions, all as part of regular service."

The 7000-series trains are manufactured right here in Chicago by CRRC Sifang America in a 380,000-square-foot factory at the intersection of 135th Street and Torrence Avenue in Hegewisch. The $100 million facility opened in 2019 and brought railcar manufacturing back to the city of Chicago after a nearly 60-year absence.

The CTA will continue in-service testing its first 10 cars on the Blue Line through 2022 before ordering an additional 390 cars from CRRC. The company has a $1.3 billion contract to eventually supply the CTA with 846 cars over a 10 year period. 

Chicago Transit Authority