Blue Line CTA Crash Raises Concerns of Future Accidents

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Our train injury lawyers have learned that the railroad experts investigating the CTA Blue Line crash on September 30, 2013, considered emergency recommendations to the Chicago Transit Authority. According to Jon Hilkevitch of Chicago Tribune, the recommendations “could signal concerns of a future accident.”

The accident happened when an empty out-of-service CTA train hit a stopped Blue Line CTA train carrying passengers, injuring many of the passengers.

According to the NTSB’s letter to Forrest Claypool of the CTA,” the unoccupied train had been stored at Forest Park Repair Terminal awaiting repairs when it began moving under power and departed the terminal entering main line track. The train traveled almost one mile downhill through five mechanical train stop mechanisms before reaching the Harlem Station. The emergency brakes were applied and the train was momentarily stopped several times by the mechanical train stop mechanisms as it proceeded to the Harlem Station. Following each stop, train movement resumed because the master lever on the operator console had been left in a setting that allowed the train car brakes to recover and reset from the emergency brake application and proceed through a mechanical train stop mechanism after a momentary stop.”

The NTSB was especially concerned that unoccupied CTA trains are “routinely left powered-up while stored and with the brake setting that would allow movement through a mechanical train stop mechanism after a momentary stop. De-energizing propulsion power and using an alternate brake setting could prevent unintended movement and ensure that a train that does move unintentionally would remain stopped at a mechanical train stop mechanism.”

The NTSB made two urgent safety recommendations to CTA:

Review your operating and maintenance procedures for stored unoccupied cars to ensure the propulsion and brake systems are left in a condition that would not facilitate unintended movement.

Immediately implement redundant means of stopping unintended rail car movements, such as wheel chocks or a derail.

Following this, what appears to be, a very preventable accident, the NTSB also made an urgent recommendation to the Federal Transit Administration. Specifically, the NTSB addressed the need for redundant protection for unintended train movements to prevent run-away trains. This recommendation was “derived from the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the collision between two Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains that occurred on September 30, 2013, in Forest Park, Illinois.”

The NTSB believed that “had a wheel chock and/or a derail been in use at the Forest Park Terminal, the train could have been stopped before it entered mainline track and the accident could have been prevented.” The NTSB made the following urgent safety recommendation to FTA:

Issue a safety advisory to all rail transit properties asking them to review their operating and maintenance procedures for stored unoccupied cars to ensure the propulsion and brake systems are left in a condition that would not facilitate unintended movement and that redundant means of stopping unintended rail car movements, such as wheel chocks and/or a derails are used.

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency dedicated to promoting aviation,railroad, highway, marine, pipeline, and hazardous materials safety.

Our law firm routinely files claims and prosecutes personal injury cases against the CTA and other common carriers, involving trains and buses. If you were involved in this train accident or other CTA accidents, contact our personal injury law firm Zneimer & Zneimer for a free personal injury consultation.