CTA ANNOUNCES FINDINGS ON MAY 11 DERAILMENT

June 1, 2000
06/01/00

The Chicago Transit Authority today announced the results of its internal investigation into the cause of a train derailment on the Blue Line (Congress Branch) that occurred on Thursday, May 11th at approximately 10:20 p.m. Approximately 25 passengers were aboard the train at the time and all were safely evacuated. No injuries were reported at the time, although four people were later transported by the Chicago Fire Department to area hospitals where they were treated and released.

The four-car train was traveling southbound through an area where several tracks merge and cross over one another. Due to CTA maintenance work in the area, all trains were being routed to the northbound track. The derailment occurred as the train was crossing back to the southbound track. The first two cars of the train passed through the crossover with no apparent problems. However, the back half of the third car and the fourth car derailed.

Based on the conditions at the incident site and position of the train, the investigation concluded that the track switch at the crossover, which enables trains to move from one track to another, was manually moved or thrown as the train was passing through it. The investigation determined that this was due to human error, concluding that one of the switchmen manually threw the switch while the train was over it, in clear violation of CTA rules.

The investigation also concluded that, among other things, the switchmen violated a CTA rule which requires the person operating the switches, after throwing the switches, to step across the tracks and be in a position to flag the approaching train. The motorman also violated the rule since he is not supposed to move the train through the crossover until the switchmen have moved into the proper position and signaled the train to proceed. In this situation, the investigation determined that although the switchmen signaled for the train to proceed, they were not in the proper position to do so. They should have been in their required position and the motorman should not have moved the train until they were properly positioned.

The CTA has discharged the two switchmen involved, due to their actions leading up to and resulting in the derailment and because they failed to cooperate in the investigation.

All other employees interviewed as part of the investigation offered their full cooperation. The motorman was suspended following the incident and must successfully undergo retraining before he will be allowed back into service. In addition, two controllers at the CTA's command center have been ordered to undergo retraining for not following correct procedures regarding derailments and evacuation of a train. Two track maintenance workers were also ordered to undergo retraining on correct procedures regarding derailments.

The investigation determined that neither drugs or alcohol were a factor in the incident.

'safety must always be our first priority. We have a responsibility to our customers to get them where they need to go as safely as possible. And we strive to ensure a safe work environment for our employees? said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Our safety procedures are in place for those reasons and it is important that everyone follow them. When an incident occurs, it is vital that employees fully cooperate so that we can understand what happened and make sure that it doesn?t happen again."

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