Video shows Blue Line O'Hare escalator crash; motorwoman nodded off previously

In case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the horrific surveillance video of the CTA Blue Line train as it barrels into the station, hits the bumper stop, and seems to be catapulted up the escalator.

Meanwhile, the NTSB interviewed the train’s motorwoman today. She was very forthcoming, and admitted that recently she overshot a station stop because she had “closed her eyes” for a minute. On Monday, she told the rail union president that she had nodded off as the train entered the O’Hare station.

Also,ABC-7 news reported that one of the women suing the CTA for damages in the aftermath of the accident also was injured six months ago in the Blue Line “runaway train” incident.

She may not agree with my post yesterday noting that about my post yesterday noting that it’s “It’s way safer on the CTA than in your car.”


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  • I'm totally baffled as to why she wasn't fired last month when she also fell asleep & managed to miss an entire stop!
    She was in her first month on the job, which I'm sure makes her a probationary hire. That usually means if you screw up, you're gone.
    So who does she know & is that how she got her job & how she kept it after last month's sleepytime?
    I wouldn't be surprised that she'll claim being a narcoleptic & she deserves special consideration due to her "illness"!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    ADA only requires reasonable accommodation for a person who is able to do the job but for the disability. If she is a narcoleptic, she can't do that job under any condition, and thus is not protected.

    What I have the feeling is that after the mass layoff, and then supposedly such attrition that, according to Frosty, 400 PTOs could be hired for the Dan Ryan bus shuttle,and be assured jobs after that, CTA is hiring a certain number of anybody, and then, as frequently demonstrated, not supervising them. Of course, the possibility of clout always exists.

  • I'm totally baffled as to why a very expensive automatic braking system didn't engage. Drivers can possibly fall asleep, or have a stroke, or have a heart attack. Or have a gun to their head directing them to crash the train.

    The CTA knew this could happen someday. I think the real question is what actions did they implement to prevent it and why did those actions fail horribly.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    The news reports on the Tuesday NTSB news conference were that the emergency brakes engaged, but did not stop the train. Ravi Baichwahl yesterday showed something that he said was a tripped track trip. Hence, we'll have to wait for the NTSB report to find out why the train really did not stop.

  • In reply to jack:

    I have some issues with the NTSB statement about how "the emergency brakes engaged but did not stop the train." Engage is defined as "to participate or become involved in." The emergency brakes did not stop the train. So how can the emergency brakes be engaged? They weren't participating or being involved in stopping the train - they failed horribly. The train did not stop like it was supposed to.

    I hear this statement and I feel like this is just marketing doublespeak to deflect blame from the corporation, the manufacturers and the government and scapegoat some poor employee.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    The brakes were never designed to stop a train going well over 25MPH in under 75 feet!
    The reason is no one expected this to happen, because they never even considered the possibility, even though the O'Hare station was built well after the Moorgate Tube crash of Feb. 1975. That was also a stub terminal in a subway & killed dozens. London Transport got rid of all stubs at stations after that as they were too dangerous.
    Obviously, the Chicago Dept. of Transportation, which designed & built the O'Hare station learned nothing from that crash!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Your theory seems supported by this ABC7 report.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    The NTSB doesn't have any reason to engage in "marketing doublespeak" (as opposed to Claypool, who always does, but shut up in this instance).

    I'm sure the final report will explain, but besides what Scooter said, for instance it doesn't do any good to floor your brake pedal if the linings are shot. Or, maybe they were just referring to the track trip being engaged.

    Neither you nor I know what they found.

  • I'm curious what the traveler with the suitcase was doing in the station at 3 am. :-) I can't imagine he came off an earlier train, as they run every 15 minutes at that hour. Was he hanging around for 15 minutes? Doubtful. Was he trying to get an inbound train to the city? There are no flights arriving at 2 to 3 am, so it's unlikely he came in on a late arriving flight.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    No one has explained the context of the video or who shot it. What surprised me yesterday is that somehow the news media took what was on YouTube (and removed by some posters) as gospel without checking into that. Of course, I'm sure the only thing about which TV news was concerned was the train mounting the escalator.

    I would be more interested in what the "10 people at HQ will be interested in this" remark was about before the train became airborne, if one wants to engage in some conspiracy theory.

  • In reply to jack:

    What we are seeing is a video that is playing on a monitor, not the original source. It is probably originally recorded on a networked computer or DVR and it is not able to keep up with the demand from the people who are trying to watch it, thus making the video appear jerky. The remark heard on the video was probably in reference to this. I don't see a conspiracy here (of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't one).

  • Crain's reported that the CTA are moving the emergency braking system back to outside the station and also slowing the inbound speed to 15 from 25mph. I'm guessing they think the NTSB investigation will make them do this anyway.

  • In reply to chris:

    Is the EBS on the train, or do they have speed retarders on the rails?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The EBS is solely on the train.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The explanation in Krambles's book (page 70) is that track trips simply trip something on the train if the operator violates a signal, usually at a junction (interlocking). In the old days, it would open an air valve and vent the air brake system, shutting down the train (not explained how; maybe the air pressure had to be up to keep the brakes off). Since cars went all electric, it just activates a switch on the truck (wheel assembly) and the regular brakes on the train are supposed to do the work. One would also think that the controller would be interlocked with that, shutting down the power to the motors and inducing dynamic braking (power goes backwards from the motors to the resisters to slow the train), but, again, the NTSB will have to figure that out.

    The incomprehensible thing reported with regard to the Forest Park ghost train is that it stopped at each interlocking (because it was going the wrong way), but then started back up itself.

  • I answersed a query about our "L".
    Ok , i read in one of the articles these trains DO HAVE auto breaking/stopping systems for a terminus like this. Looks like they may need to look into that, pretty sure this is not how it is supposed to work!

    Our CTA "L" cars/trains do definitely have auto braking/stopping systems for a terminus like this, and, on all main tracks systemwide.

    At interlocking junctions where track switches cross, there are wayside signals with track trips that will stop a train that disobeys signals or the route is not correct.

    The cab signal gives both a consideration of the track ahead and a speed limit and the operator has only 2.5 seconds to react or the train goes into emergency.

    The control handle must be held down, if released, the train goes into emergency.

    Unfortunately, no system is 100 percent. Our train evidently handled speed changes from 55 mph to 35 mph to 25 mph between the former station and O'Hare. The routes through switches, through two separate interlocking were lined. The "dead man" was not activated. There wasn't enough space to stop a 25 mph train.

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