Yesterday’s CTA train crash at O’Hare International Airport station calls serious question to the policies, procedures and safeguards in place to protect passengers and other members of the public from catastrophic injury or death. This extremely violent crash would likely have killed or seriously injured many more people had it not occurred in the middle of the night.
Of the more than 30 people injured and sent to the hospital, fortunately none of the injuries were considered life-threatening, at least according to officials.
The question remains: How did this crash happen, and what must be done to ensure something like this does not happen again?
Early reports suggested that the CTA train operator fell asleep at the controls, causing the train to crash into the O’Hare station. The accident occurred just before 3:00 am, and reports suggest that the train operator may have fallen asleep before smashing through a “bumping post” at the end of the track.
According to the president of the Transit Union, Robert Kelly, the CTA train operator admitted that she was “tired” after the crash.
“I can confirm that she was extremely tired,” Kelly said. “Indications are she might have dozed off.”
Investigators will look at the operator’s work schedule and hours of service leading up to this crash to see how it impacted her stamina. She will also undergo drug and alcohol testing as part of normal protocol.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators will also investigate the speed of the train just before the crash occurred. Photographs of the aftermath of the crash suggest that the train was traveling with significant speed and momentum to smash through a barrier at the end of the line, jump the platform and climb the escalator at the station.
Early reports do not suggest the train was speeding, but rather that it failed to slow down and obviously stop.
Braking System Malfunction?
CTA trains are generally equipped with a safety mechanism known as automatic train control, which automatically slows down or stops a train if it goes through a red signal or is going too fast.
This automatic braking system should have been triggered here to slow the train and warn the operator. Investigators will analyze whether this safety system was working at the time.
Pattern of Unsafe Practices?
This is the second time in two years the NTSB has investigated a CTA train crash. Since 1976, the NTSB has investigated nine CTA crashes, including this most recent one.
Experienced CTA Injury Lawyers
Passen & Powell has successfully represented several people seriously injured in crashes with CTA buses and trains. To speak with one of our attorneys, call us at 312-527-4500.