Today’s post is by guest contributor and MCERA Vern Hallas, who shares his pictures from last Saturday’s 4000s trip with us:
My name is Vern Hallas. I submitted some pictures I took on 4/26/2014 of the 4000 series cars running on the Skokie Swift. Mr. Sadowski requested I write about my experience that day. Please note: I will not even attempt to match the wit, wisdom, and eloquence of Mr. Sadowski. I will do my humble best and hope it’s suitable.
When I saw these cars would be running on the Skokie line, I was thrilled. I haven’t ridden a 4000 series car for many years. However, doing this would be a slight problem as I work nights. I read the last run would be around 2 p.m. and figured I could make it there just in time.
Saturday I followed the train tracker on the CTA site and figured the last run would leave Dempster around 1:40 p.m. I left my home just after 1, I thought this would work. It turned out traffic was much heavier than I anticipated, this wasn’t looking good! I arrived at Dempster right at 1:40 and saw the train leaving the station. I was sure this was the last trip and I missed it!
I will not write here what my exact thoughts were at that time. If I did, I’m sure I would be permanently banned from posting on CERA forever! I walked up to the station and asked an employee if that was the last run. He told me the event had been extended and the train would run till about 4. Needless to say, this was great news!
Just after 2 p.m., I heard the crossing gates start south of the station start ringing. I grabbed my camera and headed out to the platform. Even at this later time, there were many train enthusiasts like myself there with their cameras rolling. When the train pulled up to the platform, there was a rush of people for the front of the train. I didn’t even try to get a seat up there. Instead I sat at the very end of the train. I figured that I’d have a great spot to take video on the return trip from Howard.
When I was seated, I looked around and noticed the vintage advertisements. I liked this a lot, it reminded me of the last day of the 2200s where they did the same thing. It really gave me a feeling of how things were back in the day. I found it ironic that there was an ad for the North Shore Line. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why.
Then I heard the 2 buzzes which meant “all clear” and the doors slid closed. When the train started moving, it was just as I remembered from years back. I could hear the air compressor chugging away and the train made a sort of groaning noise as it started moving. The old train ran very well, they didn’t push it for obvious reasons but we did around 35 mph or so. In a short amount of time we were at Howard.
During the trip, I chatted with a man seated in front of me. He was a retired bus driver and used to drive the Marmon-Herrington trolley buses. As I live near Belmont av, I rode these a lot, we had a very nice time reminiscing. The train stopped at Howard to let people exit then pulled forward to prepare for the return trip. As I had hoped, the motorman switched ends to return to Dempster. I now had a great spot to take video.
After a few minutes, we again got the “all clear” signal and we were off to Dempster. Near Skokie shops there must be a slow zone as the cab signal sounded and he had to slow down. Hearing a cab signal in a 4000 was very unusual to me. I know it’s necessary but it seemed out of place in a vintage train. I also forgot just how LOUD the air horns are, I think the motorman was having a good time blasting the horn at every opportunity. I know I would have been.
After a stop at Oakton, we were soon back at Dempster and I reluctantly exited the train. When we left Howard, they announced the train would return to Howard, then go to the Skokie yard. Otherwise I might have taken another ride.