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 eolesen
Metra passenger killed in fiery crash with semi truck in Clarendon Hills, at least four others hurt

MAY 11, 2022 / 11:51 AM / CBS CHICAGO

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Metra passenger was killed Wednesday morning when a BNSF Railway line train hit a semi truck in Clarendon Hills, causing the truck to burst into flames.

Metra said, sometime before 8:30 a.m., an inbound BNSF Railway line train hit a truck on the tracks in Clarendon Hills.

Metra said a passenger on the train, a woman, was killed in the collision. Four other people on the train suffered minor injuries, including two passengers, a conductor, and an engineer.

No one in the truck was injured.

The crash caused the truck to roll over and burst into flames. The local firefighters' association said the impact also caused power lines above the truck to catch fire.

Some power lines came down, which might have affected power in the area.

The truck was badly burned, and the train also had major damage from the collision.

"The ringing of the whistle, and then a huge noise. To me, the first thing that occurred to me was the train had hit something," said witness Krish Rangaswamy.

Metra said all inbound and outbound service remained on the BNSF Railway suspended as of 10:45 a.m., and recommended riders use the Union Pacific West Line as an alternative. Metra said it does not yet have a timeline for when BNSF Railway line service will resume.

National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating.

First published on May 11, 2022 / 8:46 AM

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  by Gilbert B Norman
NBC News has identified the train as BNSF 1242, which is scheduled 8A at Clarendon Hills.

I took my 3.23 mile 6826 step walk early today, passing the scene on my return leg at 620A. It's .06 mile from my home, but I'm not going near there anytime soon.

What "doesn't add up" is that the outlets all report the train hit the truck, yet their accompanying video shows damage to the side of the lead car and none visible on the car's head (the EB train was being pushed).
  by eolesen
Those front edges are really, really solid...
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here is twelve minutes of video taken at the collision scene:


As can clearly be seen, there is damage to the head end. So Mr. Olesen is likely correct in his conclusion that the initial impact occurred there.

The report states that the vehicle hit was a "semi", however, a close look at such shows that is a light duty "straight" truck used by furniture and appliance delivery services.

Even though BNSF 1242 is scheduled to stop at Clarendon Hills, I have now learned it was, owing to an earlier delayed train, operating nonstop (Express in METRAese) from Downers Grove, therefore it hit the vehicle at something close to track speed of 70mph on Track 1. Not helping the cause is that there is a left hand SE to E curve, as well as traveling into a rising sun that impaired the Engineer's line of sight.

But I had best not "speculate" further. The NTSB is on the scene - and they are "the best in the business".

Finally, adding to the situation, presently that X-ing is being resurfaced; at present there are some severe bumps on either side of such that even seem to have some of our "aggressive" drivers around here, gender notwithstanding, slowing way down. I take those bumps at not more than 5mph - which has cost me a "horn or two".
  by Gilbert B Norman
Both an EB and WB manifest are passing my house at this moment at a VERY restricted speed.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Two WB METRA's just passed.
  by Gilbert B Norman
WBBM 780/105.9 has now reported there will be no METRA service at Clarendon Hills tomorrow.

My three mile morning walk takes me by both the Clarendon Hills and West Hinsdale stations. However it will be interesting to see if I can take that usual route tomorrow.
  by justalurker66
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 2:24 pmHere is twelve minutes of video taken at the collision scene:

As can clearly be seen, there is damage to the head end. So Mr. Olesen is likely correct in his conclusion that the initial impact occurred there.
That video is very helpful. Thanks for linking.

It looks like the truck was spun around to hit the side of the lead car. In that video I can see the crossing gate post down and about halfway to the burned out truck. There is damage to the overhead crossing signal which probably provided a pivot point for the truck (pushed back into the train instead of tossing it to the side into the parking lot).

It will be interesting to see the NTSB's report on this. I know they focus on survivability and overall it appears the train performed well (no derailment and no front end intrusion into the car).

You mentioned getting the horn from other drivers at railroad crossings. Not specific to this incident, but I often get the horn and expect some day to get a shove from an impatient driver who thinks I should be pulling on to a crossing I cannot clear or moving faster over a bumpy crossing. I'm not going to intentionally pull on to a crossing that I cannot clear but there are times where traffic is flowing slow and one expects that it will keep moving enough to clear a crossing or intersection and then just stops. Usually my car clears but the impatient person behind me stops in the intersection or on the crossing. That usually leaves me holding my breath until the traffic clears.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Observing the scene; the six car set remains on Track 1; #210 is still idling with HEP off

The vehicle hit is an 18' Box van of the type used by furniture and appliance delivery companies.

Cops from two agencies, METRA and Clarendon Hills are quite visible.

Here comes an Eastbound METRA on 3 Track; did not stop..

Lead car is 8473 damage to head is visible. Cannot observe the damage to Engineer side where most of the impact occurred as well as likely where the fatality occurred as well.

Time to wave at Chopper (whoever) and get on with my walk. Left my eyes at home so cannot report which news outlet such is from.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Local NBC News reports "back to normal" Friday. I'll be taking my walk starting within the 5AM hour tomorrow so "we shall see".

The victim has been identified; a grandmother who boarded at Downers Grove Main Street.

A friend told me she was listening to a report today that noted this was the first fatality on the line since the 1947 incident occurring at Naperville. Resulting from that was the 79mph passenger train speed limit and the CBQ bi level cars that were "built like brick (out) houses".

Let's all wait for the NTSB "prelim" expected within thirty days.
  by Gilbert B Norman
From the accident scene---

As of this time, both the equipment and the box truck wreckage have been removed, however the Prospect Ave X,'ing remains closed to traffic, but the pedestrian walkway is open. Two police agencies, Clarendon Hills and METRA remain on scene.

I just observed an EB (inbound) METRA Proceed on 2 Track at restricted speed.

Apparently, trains will stop today as the police tape has been removed from the platforms. 1 Track is presently lined (High Green) for a train to proceed and presumably stop. Here it comes now and has stopped.

Oh, and the "flying circus" noted yesterday has found "new barns to storm" today.
GBN and Everyone:

You and JL's posts on this tragic accident kept us informed about what happened - From the Chicago Sun-Times:
https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/2022/ ... hills-ntsb
Could this accident have been preventable as the Family's relatives and attorney thinks?
This fatality was from an ejection out of a side window as the NTSB has already found...

The CBS2 video was interesting to me - and emphasized more the truck destroyed in the accident - in which thankfully no one was hurt - than the train specifically cab car #8473 where the fatality and injuries were...

Another factor that I found interesting is that the train was not moved off of the eastbound Clarendon Hills platform for more than 24 hours - We understand that car #8473 became an indepth accident investigation scene - I noticed that there was another cab car behind #8473 meaning the car could have been uncoupled from the rest of the train and placed on a siding nearby - being for all accounts and purposes a "crime scene" for the investigation by the NTSB and Metra...Even at the to-be-determined rate of speed the train was moving the Engineer was still able to stop all six cars on the Clarendon Hills platform...

Has there been any thoughts in the past about attempting to close or eliminate the Prospect Avenue crossing at Clarendon Hills station? Would the Village of CH be able to function without that crossing open? Having Metra and CH PD keep watch on the crossing and station area will be helpful - at least for now...

I agree that the NTSB will find the cause of this tragedy in their investigation...MACTRAXX
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. MACTRAX, when the NTSB has jurisdiction over an accident scene, the only things that gets moved are injured persons. Anything else is "frozen" until NTSB releases such.

"Once upon a time", such as when I located here during '79, many of the stations had a house track. That included Clarendon Hills with one serving a building materials industry (funny how when the broker drove me to see what became my house, she avoided passing that business - oh, the games these brokers play!!!), but that has since become "high six and even seven figure" condos. So no siding was available.

I noted the road resurfacing that was in progress over the X-ing. On both sides of the tracks there are bumps about 2" deep. 5mph is fast enough for me, and I adhere to the common sense rule of don't drive on to tracks without an escape route. Apparently, the driver of this furniture/appliance delivery truck found common sense to be uncommon.

I'll report here when Prospect Ave is reopened (the Politburu here would "never allow our charming village to be desecrated with an over or underpass"), but otherwise let's wait for the preliminary. The Board will get to the bottom, as all the evidence was there at the scene.
GBN - Thanks for the reply - The NTSB has posted these videos about the Clarendon Hills accident:
B-Roll about -
Media Briefing in Clarendon Hills by NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg -
ABC7 Chicago Air View video -
I searched YouTube and entered "Grade Crossing Accident Clarendon Hills, IL May 11, 2022" for the record...

There was mention in news reports about the condition of the Prospect Avenue Crossing with the road work
ongoing in the area - and that the condition of the track crossing is rough enough to slow traffic...

Will there be any effort to eliminate the Prospect Avenue Crossing in the aftermath of this tragedy?
An underpass depending on the grading necessary looks like a possibility for the site - if CH Village
can be somehow convinced that the crossing is indeed dangerous...MACTRAXX