Red Line subway fire injures at least 19 people

A small track fire between Chicago and Clark/Division sent 19 CTA Red Line riders to area hospital for smoke inhalation. Follow updates at the Tribune’s Chicago Breaking News site.

Passengers again report spotty announcements from operators. One passenger told the Tribune, “We were given no instruction.” The CTA has been criticized in the past for poor passenger communication. Certainly the CTA must improve here.

Also: Check out the scary photos inside one of the smoke-filled rail cars.

Red Line fire.jpg

Chicago Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo


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  • In addition to Ed's point, given the prior post about the drill, it appears that it didn't do much good, either.

  • MK - here's another passage from the same story:

    How much information passengers received seemed to depend on which train they were traveling on. Some said operators tried to calm passengers by telling them that a small fire had started on the track and that the train would begin moving again quickly. Others said they got almost no information, adding to the chaos of the situation.

    CTA officials, who've come under fire in recent years because of poor communication between train operators and passengers during emergencies, will conduct their own investigation into how procedures were followed.

    The bottom line is all operators should be trained to be in communication with passengers during emergencies.

  • Not sure why you're taking the side of the CTA here. How about an eyewitness report from comments on the Trib article:

    From Jamie on June 21, 2010 12:31 PM

    "My friend and I were on the train that filled with smoke at the Clark and Division stop. My friend actually pushed the emergency button to talk to the driver when we began to notice the smoke pouring inside of our car. When we didn't receive any information, we began to panic as we crouched down on the floor, hoping to avoid further smoke inhalation. When our train finally stopped, we were unaware of our location, only to be informed by another passenger that we were in fact at a station. The doors opened and black smoke billowed in, disabling our ability to see anything beyond 3 feet in front of us. No one from the cta directed our panicked fleeing from the train, and worse yet, the many elderly people on our car were left to fend for themselves. My friend and I found a cta personnel in the maddness, and we followed him to the stairs, although no communication occured between him and ourselves. We felt a sense of relief, and also disbelief as we realized that he had ignored our cries for help when we asked where to go. Our experience underground was nothing short of pure terror, and absolute chaos. We are happy to be alive."

  • You can add this story the ever-growing pile of reason to stay away from CTA trains. Before I left Chicago, I hadn't ridden on a train in nearly 5 or 6 years. Too much crime. Too many safety concerns.

  • MK, I know there are various sides to this story. And I believe that there probably were *some* instructions given by *some* operators. But if only one of three operators failed to do his/her job and communicate with passengers, then to me that is a failure.

  • From the above two, it appears that you weren't there.

    While I have had my arguments about the usefulness of Hilkevitch's reporting (he is more than likely wrong), you seem to have some hidden agenda, by so vehemently making a point that you can't now back up, even with a link.

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