It's raining rail fasteners! CTA Loop derailment causes unwelcome precipitation

Rail fasteners litter the ground after Tuesday's Orange Line derailment. (Photo from WGN-9 News video)

Rail fasteners litter the ground after Tuesday’s Orange Line derailment. (Photo from WGN-9 News video)

So that was very odd. Steel rail fasteners came raining down on cars and pedestrians Tuesday night after a CTA Orange Line train derailed in the Loop, pulling out the fasteners and causing them to fall onto the street below.

From the Tribune story:

The curved steel fasteners slide into brackets that hold the tracks into place. CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the derailment “caused some of them to become dislodge.  Not every single one.  They fell in multiple places.”

He said the fasteners fit into the brackets like dead-bolts and it’s rare for them to be pulled out during a derailment. “It would take a great deal of force, which is what apparently occurred when the wheels derailed,” he said.


Joseph Williams, who also called 911, said he started to get out of his car but thought better of it when he saw all of the debris falling from the tracks.  “It was like the sky was falling,” he said. “When the metal hit the street, you could hear it.”

He said he waited for the train to pass overhead before he left his car.

“The train was screeching all the way down, the wheel was cutting up the tracks as it went down the tracks,” he said. “The wood started falling, it was like a buzz saw going down the tracks and cutting up the tracks into bits and pieces.”

He noticed dozens of the fasteners on cars, on the sidewalk and on the street.

There have been a number of CTA derailments in the last year, but this is really a new twist on the tired topic.


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  • I wish I had been there so I could add the rail clips to my collection of CTA parts that have fallen off the L structure or trains.
    I have a few spikes, one of the long lag bolts that hold the wood guard from the outside of the trestle structure & my favorite part, a sleet scraper that flew off a NB Evanston Express at Columbia Ave. a second before I walked out from the viaduct.
    It makes a great paperweight, as it was almost brand new & not worn down.

  • Maybe slightly off topic but "screeching" reminded me. The escalator down to the street in the new part of the Howard Street station is still making a loud noise like a bad trumpet player. Somewhere underneath, metal is scraping on metal--and at some point the outcome won't be good. Does the CTA have a maintenance department? Could they find a hardware store and buy a can of WD-40?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I think it's it the up escalator, not the down one.
    It should be a lot of fun when it finally breaks, then it will take a year for them to fix it!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    You are correct, it's the up escalator. Perhaps I just notice it more on the downward approach. But am I not right about what it sounds like?

    A year's worth of fix vs. a little pre-emptive action. Let's see...who benefits from each?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Oh yeah, it sounds like a train turning at Lake & Wabash.
    Exactly how no one at the CTA hasn't heard this & told the maintenance crews to get on it is baffling.
    I think I've heard it for at least 3 weeks.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    More like months ago is when I first noticed it.

    I wish I knew whom to tell about it. Where do the maintenance people at the Howard station hide? Or aren't they located there?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I believe the metalworkers that repair the escalators work out of the CTA shop on Maypole east of Pulaski. It used to be the Surface Lines West Shops.
    You'd think that of the dozens of Red Line employees that start at Howard, some of them would have reported this.
    There's also the manager of the Red Line, but I don't know where he works.
    The only reason I only noticed it a few weeks ago is that I usually take the old Howard entrance north of there, but lately had some leg problems, so I needed the escalators.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    At least it works. The escalators at LaSalle blue line station (up or down) have been not working 80% of the time for the month of June.

  • In reply to chris:

    Just part of the plan to rid the line of old and tired people.


  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Free ride Blago tried to give them not worth it....?

  • Hmmm, what are the chances the fasteners were not fastened correctly? Seems a bid odd, no?

    Any word on what caused the derailment? I assume it picked the switch at the junction. Luckily, the train continued until the entire consist was on the Van Buren segment. Had it got stuck in the junction, the entire elevated system would have been a total mess.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    No word on what caused the derailment. However, that section of track was supposedly just replaced as part of a Loop track and signal project.

  • In reply to jack:

    Any new news on what happened?

  • In reply to chris:

    CBS2 just said that a brake caliper came off the train and derailed the following wheel.

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