NTSB on Blue Line derailment: ‘The train was trying to stop’

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The NTSB is pulling out of Chicago two days after a blue line train barreled into the O’Hare station. Their investigation on the ground is over and now the operation moves to Washington, DC.

Mechanical malfunctions– if there were any — are not being revealed Wednesday.

But what we did confirm with the NTSB is that the train operator admitted she fell asleep at the switch and didn’t wake up until she hit — quite literally — the station.

Meanwhile, a YouTube video the surfaced overnight shows the eight-car Blue Line derailing with such impact that the lead car jumped the tracks and ran up an el platform, landing on the escalator. It shows just how fast 25-26 mph can look when a train fails to stop at the station.

“When I went down there yesterdayI was, it’s jarring, I supposed is the one word I would use to describe it,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Thank god nobody was seriously injured.”

But 32 people were hurt somehow, and on Wendnesday, a judge ordered all evidence be preserved as it relates to the mangled train, the tracks, and the station — records and all.

Meanwhile, workers inside O’Hare’s el station are working to dismantle the much talked about train. The NTSB says the lead car that landed on the escalator is being cut apart piece by piece. The damage to the train alone is $6 million.

The NTSB says the cars have been examined, video has been retrieved and the train operator, along with others, has been interviewed. She was asked about her schedule, her training and experience.

Then she was asked about the crash.

“And she did admit she dozed off prior to entering the station,” said NTSB’s Ted Turpin, and she didn’t wake up until impact. But there’s more–this train operator, with just 60 days experience of running trains on chicago rails already has a history, and the CTA knew about it.

“In February, she dozed off and passed the station without stopping,” Turpin said.

The train operator was described as cooperative and forthcoming. The NTSB says her her schedule is varied—she fills in for other train operators. that schedule along with her fatigue level will be evaluated in washington. that along with other mechanical questions.

“There’s an electrical brake and there’s a disc break system on the train, and actually there’s a third track break, but only two of those breaks are necessary to stop the train — the disc break and the electrical break. And those were applied and the train was trying to stop. That’s all I can tell you,” Turpin said.

The train operator has been placed on injury leave until the investigation is over and findings are in.

The CTA also refutes that the woman had previously dozed off behind the controls. The CTA claims she said she overshot the Belmont station platform in February when she “closed her eyes for a moment.” She got a safety violation for that.

As for the station, CTA hopes to have it open and operating by the weekend.

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  • JLV

    It's shameful to read an article written by a professional journalist with so many typos in it, especially when spell checkers are readily available. Also, please learn the difference between "brake" and "break". Thank you. No wonder the general public can't write nowadays…