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: metraRI, JamesT4

  by JLJ061
Am monitoring Chicago FD channels, they are now working a derailment of a Blue Line train in the area of Fulton and Clinton. From what I understand the derailed train struck the 3rd rail in several spots, generating a lot of smoke in the subway tunnel.

Over 100 people are being treated, over 20 transported to local hospitals. To give an idea of the magnitude of the situation, Chicago is maxed out on ambulances and is requesting help from the suburbs to back them up.

  by orangeline
As a follow-up,

the last car of an 8-car O'Hare bound train derailed in the tunnel between Clark/Lake and Grand Stations. The derailment started a "small" fire which generated considerable smoke. Several hundred passengers were evacuated to emergency exits at Canal and Fulton. Of those more than 70 (count could be higher by now) were treated for smoke inhalation and about 20 have been transported to Northwestern Memorial and Stroger hospitals. Many passengers interviewed by the media have very sooty faces and some were breathing very heavily and at least one had a hacking cough.

One male passenger had a moment of deja vu -- during his TV interview he said his daughter survived the attack on the World Trade Center (one of only a handful out many hundreds with her company) and he thought he was experiencing a terrorist attack on the Chicago.

Early reports are the train's motorman realized what was happening and called command center to cut power to the 3rd rail. Frank Kreusi, CTA president, is crediting his quick thinking and actions in keeping a bad situation from becoming worse.

  by ryanbytes
Patients were being transported everywhere. Some via ambulance as far as Swedish Covenant way up north. Others were loaded onto a CTA bus and transported to Illinois Masonic.

  by doepack

Tracks suspected in CTA accident

Federal safety investigators said Tuesday's CTA train derailment could have been caused by rails that were farther apart than they should have been.

Since Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board has been trying to pinpoint why the last car of an eight-car Blue Line train jumped the track inside a subway tunnel just west of the Clark and Lake station. A definitive answer to that question may be a year away, but Friday's inspection of the track put a new focus on the investigation.

According to standards set by the CTA, the distance from one rail to the other should fall between 56.5 inches and 57.5 inches.

But in a few locations within feet of the accident site, this distance -- known as the track's tolerance -- was wider by more than an inch in some cases, the NTSB found.

"That doesn't seem like a lot, but that is enough to cause the car to derail," NTSB member Kitty Higgins said. "The eighth car left the track because the rails were farther apart than they were supposed to be."

Higgins said the track alignment problems existed before the derailment, not as a result of it.

Wear and tear from trains can cause rails to spread apart, NTSB investigator Mike Flanigon said.

The tracks are supposed to be inspected and measured twice a week, and the last inspection was last Friday, four days before the accident, the NTSB said.

However, no details were available on what problems, if any, that inspection or previous ones turned up.

The NTSB's planned review of track maintenance and inspection records may raise larger questions about how thorough CTA system inspections are and how quickly problems are repaired.

The CTA could not address any of those questions Friday because of the ongoing investigation, a spokeswoman said.

Smoke and sparks, no flames

Flanigon said the Blue Line track that was out of alignment was fixed shortly after the accident.

The NTSB's 11-member team from Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles had already established that there were no significant problems with the train itself.

The train's motorman -- whose second day working the Blue Line was Tuesday -- passed his drug and alcohol screenings, Higgins said Friday.

Without an event recorder on the train, it will be difficult for the NTSB to determine how fast the train was going, but the motorman told investigators he was traveling approximately 20 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Initial reports from the CTA and train passengers indicated that a fire broke out under the eighth car after the derailment. But Friday, the NTSB said there were only smoke and sparks, no flames.

More than 150 people were hospitalized, most with smoke inhalation. One person remained in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Friday.

The NTSB plans to wrap up its on-site investigation this weekend. As part of its focus on track conditions, the agency will be looking at the rail-fastening components to determine what may have caused the tracks to come out of alignment, Higgins said.

[email protected]

  by doepack
Chicago Tribune news: CTA fires 5 over Blue Line derailment

CTA fires 5 over Blue Line derailment
By Jeremy Gorner
Tribune staff reporter

January 18, 2007, 6:00 PM CST

Five CTA employees were fired for allowing poor conditions along tracks in a
downtown subway tunnel to cause a Blue Line train derailment last July, the
Chicago Transit Authority said this afternoon.

The derailment sparked a fire, sent 150 people to hospitals and forced
hundreds of passengers on the eight-car train to evacuate.

The employees — who have worked for the CTA between 6 and 31 years —
included two track inspectors, their foreman, the engineer responsible for
monitoring the foreman's work performance and the manager of track

"These employees were entrusted with jobs that are critical to providing
safe, reliable service for CTA customers and they let us all down. By
abdicating their responsibilities, they put customers and other employees at
risk," CTA President Frank Kruesi said in a news release. "We take safety
seriously at the CTA and have no room for employees who don't."

A Blue Line train derailed during the afternoon rush on July 11, 2006, at
5:07 p.m. in the tunnel between the Clark/Lake and Grand stations.

The derailment sent more than 150 people to local hospitals to be treated
for smoke inhalation or other minor injuries after the fire erupted. About
1,000 passengers were forced to evacuate the eight train cars.

Preliminary information from the National Transportation Safety Board, the
federal agency that investigates rail accidents, indicates that defective
track conditions caused the derailment.

The CTA said it has fully cooperated with the NTSB investigation. At the
same time, the CTA said it has also reviewed its own procedures and examined
track inspection and maintenance records, and has determined that both
inspections and supervision were inconsistent and incomplete.

Kruesi announced actions taken by the CTA to make sure tracks are safe and
that safety procedures are followed, according to the CTA. Some of these
actions include a schedule to replace corroded parts along train tracks,
expediting track inspections, closer monitoring of track inspections and
refresher training for track inspectors.

Kruesi also announced a long-term plan to make repairs and improve the
inspection process. Some details of the plan include a new computerized
database for field employees to integrate information needed to effectively
maintain tracks, such as maintenance records, a contract to replace 4,000
rail ties along the subway portion of the Blue Line and ridding the area of
water seepage in the subway tunnel.

"Derailments should not occur. The CTA is committed to finding the problem
and fixing it and the steps we have taken so far and are taking today have
put us on the path to do that," said Kruesi.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune