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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: CTA Towers & Junctions - Sept/Oct 2010 - Connections - Chicago Transit Authority

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Let's take a look at one of the key components of the real system. The

train junctions which are also called interlockings. A lone tower sits above a

busy intersection of tracks. This is Tower 18 at the junction of Lake and

Wells. The people in this tower controlled the complex flow of trains

through Chicago's loop. In the rush hours we can see trains as often as every 30

to 45 seconds going through the junction here. It's considered to be one of

the busiest railroad junctions in the United States. So we take a lot of pride in that.

Five of the CTA's eight lines converge here: Pink, Green, Purple, Orange,

and Brown. Tower operators determine which trains go on which tracks and when.

Tower 18 was completely rebuilt as part of the loop signal project. The steel the

track that the trains run on was not new but everything else -- machines that throw

the switches -- are new the signals that allow the operator to proceed are brand

new. They're using a new technology, an LED technology. This is a control room

next to Tower 18. It is the electronic nerve center of the junction. We have

over 100 equipment racks in this room each with a lot of control devices that

allow decisions to be made automatically as to whether a train can proceed

through the junction or not. A control panel almost identical to one in the

tower itself supplements the panel inside the tower. The red lines indicate

that we actually have a train at this position actually coming across the Lake

Street Bridge toward the junction down Lake Street. The white lines indicate

that he has a route clear ahead of him. The route is locked so that no other

train can try to proceed across or converge into him, and the train will now

proceed through the junction as the red lights progress the train is actually

moving through the junction. Tower operators also rely on what they see

from their windows and what cameras relay to their monitors. This is the

Clark Tower. This junction is less busy than the interlockings overseen by Tower

18 but it's still busy. I use the monitors to see what's coming. I look

at the panel to see what's coming. Sometimes I look out the window to look

at the marker light, their color lights on the train, they'll let you know what

destination the train has. We have the Red Line, the Purple Line doing the rush

and the Brown Line train, north and southbound. Electronically I'm

switching the tracks. I'm moving train for one track to the other. Down track

one ... rails Midway. Archive simple. Tower operators work as train operators

before training for tower duty. We has to know where the train is going and which

about to give him and this and that so he has to know all the rules and

everything that a operator will have to know. And tower operators also have to

climb multiple sets of stairs each day. It's good exercise. But there are no

complaints here. This one of the best jobs at the company. I love my job. I do, I

really love my job. The dedication of tower operators combined with electronic

and infrastructure upgrades at critical junctions ensures safe and reliable

travel along the CTA rail system, a system that delivers more than 200

million rides a year.

If you didn't notice all the work being done on the train control systems that

was by design. The majority of the work took place on weekends and overnights to

minimize the impact on CTA customers.

The Description of CTA Towers & Junctions - Sept/Oct 2010 - Connections - Chicago Transit Authority