What we know now about CTA Blue Line O'Hare derailment

Fired CTA motorwoman Brittany Haywood.

Fired CTA motorwoman Brittany Haywood.

Lots has happened since I last reported on the O’Hare Blue Line derailment. Here’s a synopsis of what we know:

  • The 25-year-old motorwoman, Brittany T. Haywood, has been fired. She ignored two requests to appear at a disciplinary hearing.
  • The NTSB has said she was traveling at 26-miles-per-hour when when woke up from having nodded off.
  • The emergency braking system failed to stop the train because the train stop was too close to the end of the track bed to stop it.
  • The CTA has changed rules for rail operator rest periods in the aftermath of the accident.
  • Total damage at the BLue Line O’Hare station is estimated at $9.1 million.

Among the proposed changes:

  • Setting a maximum of 12 hours of actual train-operations duty (including layover times at terminals and other non-driving rail duties) for rail operations employees in a 14-hour time period. Currently, there is no maximum.
  • Increasing the minimum time of rest between shifts to 10 hours from eight hours.
  • Requiring all rail operations employees to take at least one day off in any seven-day period. Currently, there is no limit.
  • For new operators in the first year of operating a train, limit weekly hours operating a train to 32 hours. As they do now, these employees will work other rail-related duties besides operating trains in their other work hours.  Currently, there is no limit.

The CTA has already implemented two other changes at the O’Hare Blue Line station:

  • Reducing the speed limit of approaching trains to 15 mph from 25 mph.
  • Moving “trip arms,” devices that will stop a train traveling above the speed limit, further back from the end of the platform.

Additionally, the CTA will repeat its fatigue awareness training for all rail operators.
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  • fb_avatar

    This sounds very similar to duty time fatigue related aviation accidents. Hopefully they'll fix the escalator so as not to mar the beautiful Helmut Jahn modernist station with that wood construction.

  • We also know that the reason the speed limit was so high & the brake trip was so close to the bumping post was that in its early years, the CTA only ran 2 car trains to O'Hare at night & they couldn't make it through the ling interlocking east of the station without losing power.
    Apparently the CTA also didn't want to hire a switchman to man a stinger to give the train a temporary boost of electricity, which has often been needed at places like Clark Junction, when there were 2 car Ravenswood trains going NB at reduced speeds during maintenance, but at that time & place, there was always someone to juice the train with the stinger.

    So now we know that a combination of an operator who had worked the same shift for 3 straight nights, must have been doing something to keep herself awake in her off hours in the days before the wreck, when she should have been obtaining the proper amount of sleep, fell asleep at the controls, combined with a failure by CTA management, caused by their continuing retrograde inertia, to update its operating procedures when circumstances changed over the years ultimately caused this wreck & almost disaster!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    That should have read "long interlocking"

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    And I replied in the wrong place.See the reply to this under johnp.

  • We also know the CTA has won the media battle to deflect blame for the Blue Line O'Hare derailment.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    But as far as retrograde thinking, she apparently was running an 8 car train at 2:00 a.m. with 30 some passengers on it. Maybe that is proper standard operating procedure, but then the need for the stinger to power a 2 car train over the interlocking shouldn't exist, and hence the need to run through the interlocking at 25 mph.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Now my actual reply to you.

    While we knew Claypool was going to fire her, I don't think CTA got a pass for safety equipment that didn't do its job either, especially since this was the second incident on the Blue Line within a year.

    CTA also seemed to take its lumps over the scheduling pattern (the media sure let Kelly make contradictory comments about that) before it came out that she had the right under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to ask for that much overtime.

  • 25 years old? How did Brittany get such a good job at that age? I smell nepotism (or something Chicago-like) here. I was going to make a "Daley's nephew" joke, but that obviously would be off-the-mark.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Blue:

    I thought the exact same thing!

  • In reply to Blue:

    I have the feeling it is more that if CTA has so much attrition that it could, for instance, guarantee those hired for the Red Line Shuttle permanent jobs, it doesn't have that much choice in hiring.

    The one time I applied for a summer job (which I didn't get) the only qualification for any job was to be 18. At least now you need a CDL to drive a bus.

    In her case, she was a flagger first, and then somehow passed operator training class. As was noted on ABC7, she is still listed in the Salary Spreadsheet as a flagger at $13.13/hr. I don't think it takes much clout to get that kind of job.

  • I read somewhere that the various interlocks around the system also have a similar "emergency braking systems", or some other mechanism to prevent collisions at the junctions. How exactly do these things work? On the outbound Purple line at Wells/Lake, the train is stopped at the signal a few feet from the interlock. If the operator were to be incapacitated after departing the Washington/Wells station, I don't see how on earth a collision to be avoided. Where are the trips?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    It was covered in Krambles' book (and I mentioned it here before) Every interlock has a "red over red, stop and stay" and a track trip that, if one violates the signal, engages something under the car, which engages the various braking systems.

    The things revealed in the two Blue Line crashes is that it apparently also engages if the train is going backwards or too fast through the switch. In the Forest Park collision, the "ghost train" supposedly was stopped at each interlocking, but reset its controller by magic and started back up.

    As far as "where are the trips," apparently not far enough back in this case. I guess the next time you go through that junction, you'll have to look out the back for something near the outer track.

  • In reply to jack:

    The red over red signal is no more than 20 feet from the crossover. I don't see how the brakes would stop the train if it was going more than 2 mph at that point.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Either the trip is farther back, or, as in the O'Hare case, it won't work.

    One also has to consider that the cab signal should be beeping and stopping the train, and one can't operate very fast in the Loop, but the 1977 crash at Wabash and Lake demonstrates that anything can be defeated.

  • I suppose you have no problem Kevin having her name published for all the world to see?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Her name and her picture have been published in every newspaper website and on every television station in this city. As I mentioned above, Channel 7 published her salary from the Salary Spreadsheet, and the last thing Ravi Baichwahl asked Chuck Gowdie was "this is all public information?" to which the answer was yes. They also broadcast the 911 call where the dispatcher gave out her badge and run number, and 911 calls are public information.

    You are way late to the game, Bill.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Hey ibill - try Googling her name. You'll see it's already all over the Internet. Given that, I had no problem publishing her name.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Maybe she was tired because she had to clean her train, which the anti labor, anti union Kevin McNeil seems to have no problem with.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Do you have any evidence of that? Or is it because she drove a train onto an escalator.

    Your comment raises the issue whether someone is operating a train off his meds. I'm not saying that as an insult, but as another indication that maybe nobody is concerned about passenger safety.

    Also, you may want to explain why ATU President Kelly was so willing to throw her "under the bus" on televised news conferences. I think he is antiunion. Elect someone else.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Here's where her name was was revealed (although I saw it at 6:00).

    So, if you have a problem, take it up with the I Team, Bill.

  • In reply to jack:

    Chuck Gowdie is an asshole.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    So, how did that comment further the discussion?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Why would anyone have a problem with that? When someone crashes their car badly enough for media to report it, they name names.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Like the truck driver (Renato V. Velasquez) who killed the Tollway worker and injured a state policeman. Also, the feds ordered the trucking company (DND International Inc.) off the roads.

  • She shouldn't be a scapegoat for what's wrong with CTA namely rampant incompetence along with taking it's ridership for granted because they can't or won't (gasp!) purchase autos.

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