Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by orangeline
 
This morning ~ 8:00 AM two trains on the Blue Line, one in-service heading toward Downtown and O'Hare, the other an out-of-service train running westbound, collided head-on at Harlem Ave station in Forest Park in front of horrified passengers waiting on the platform. There were at least 33 injuries. Early reports are the out-of-service train was running with no one at the controls. CTA is puzzled how two trains going in opposite directions ended up on same track.

Service is being operated on a single track around the accident area and no trains in either direction are stopping at Harlem Ave.
  by orangeline
 
The early report I saw had the in-service train headed eastbound (toward downtown), but it was in reality heading west toward Forest Park. The out-of-service train moved out of Forest Park yard and ended up on the westbound track, apparently with no one on board and not triggering a number of faisafe mechanisms (interlockings, trip arms, etc.). CTA spokespeople say they will be reviewing video footage from around the yard and at Harlem Ave station. No one can figure out how power was applied. The "runaway" was estimated to be moving at 20 mph at moment of impact. For now this incident is being treated as a bizaare accident involving multiple mechanical failures, but it could become a criminal investigation once video footage is reviewed and other evidence examined.

Fox 32 says up to 48 passengers were injured with 33 hospitalized.
  by electricron
 
Not another runaway train. :(
Don't conductors/engineers/operators/drivers know how to properly secure the trains anymore?
  by Tadman
 
I believe these trains must have the throttle in an off/brake position before the reverser key is removed. This is really an odd one.
  by JLJ061
 
I'm starting to get somewhat suspicious considering the runaway had to travel uphill when it left the yard unattended before the collision; and pass through an interlocking that should have tripped the brakes.

Since the NTSB has taken over the investigation, I'm very curious to hear about their findings.
  by orangeline
 
JLJ061 wrote:I'm starting to get somewhat suspicious considering the runaway had to travel uphill when it left the yard unattended before the collision; and pass through an interlocking that should have tripped the brakes.

Since the NTSB has taken over the investigation, I'm very curious to hear about their findings.
I don't know as a fact, but with government shutdown, is NTSB closed for the duration?
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Cars were 3171 and 3177 - both among the final batch of 40 cars (3161-3200) delivered by Budd/Transit America in early 1987.
  by justalurker66
 
orangeline wrote:I don't know as a fact, but with government shutdown, is NTSB closed for the duration?
Investigators are working, PR people are not:
Tim DePaepe of the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that once the agency's investigators are on a scene they are considered "essential" and would not be furloughed as part of the government shutdown that began at midnight.

But callers to the NTSB public affairs office Tuesday were told by a recording that "due to lapse in funding" the office is closed.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/0 ... ef=chicago" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by dcmike
 
It's frustrating how little information is available about this incident. I realize it's partially due to the fact that the NTSB's media affairs department is furloughed but I feel the local media could be doing a better job.

Anyhow I've read several times now that these cars would have had to ascend a grade in order to reach the incident site. Can anyone familiar with the local topography confirm this? Is it possible the cars picked up speed going down a hill first, or is it a near certainty that traction power was applied? I understand these cars are married pairs. How many air compressors are carried per pair? Is it possible the brakes just bled off?

This vaguely reminds me of an incident way back when I was in Cleveland. As usual with this type of thing, it took a multitude of factors for things to go this wrong. A new employee in the back shop had wired an electric coupler head improperly and without authorization "green tagged" it. Another employee installed it on the blind end of a car and failed to perform an operational check before releasing the car for service. It left the shop and a yard operator coupled it to the blind end of another standing train that, for whatever reason, had its operator's cab console left keyed up. When the coupler head was replaced the employee doing the work also failed to normalize the car-end brake pipe cutout cock, so when the cars coupled, the brake pipe didn't dump as it normally would have. As soon as the operator keyed down the hostler controls, the consist began moving with no one at the controls. The train traveled out of the yard track, on to the shop leads, and actually in one end of the shop and out the other before the operator was able to stop it. It was very fortunate that it happened during the shop employees lunch hour, and all the overhead doors happened to be open so there were no injuries or property damage. Surely scared the hell out of everyone involved though.
  by Tadman
 
The Forest Park Yard is a tiny little yard shaped around a railroad Wye. Then, the station is around another 90 degree corner. How these stray cars got going fast enough to do this damage, after going around both a wye and 90deg corner, is beyond me.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
dcmike wrote:How many air compressors are carried per pair? Is it possible the brakes just bled off?
No air brakes. New CTA transit cars have been all-electric since 1947.

It looks like Harlem Avenue station is downhill from where the blue line crosses over the expressway and Des Plaines Avenue. The bridge over the expressway is between Harlem Avenue and the Forest Park yard.

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=4 ... 2&t=h&z=17" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by Head-end View
 
No air brakes? I've never heard of present-day trains not having air brakes. Can someone please explain the alternative system used?
  by byte
 
Fully dynamic down to single digit speeds, then an electrically-actuated disc brake to bring the train to a full stop.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
CTA cars also have track brakes which are a long strip of flat brake pads that hang about a centimeter above the rail between the wheels under each side of a truck. They are meant to hold cars sitting in place and I think they can also be used as an emergency brake. I have always wondered how badly a track brake might screw up gappy jointed rail or a switch if the track brake is engaged while the train is moving.

I don't know much about how track brakes function mechanically or how CTA uses them. Does CTA use them on out of service trains sitting in the yard?
  by Tadman
 
It's not uncommon to use the track brakes when they overcook a station. You know the type - comes into station at max power and then rocks track brakes about 20' from end of platform. It happens every rush hour somewhere in this city.