CTA Statement on NTSB Preliminary Report

December 12, 2023 04:30 PM

The CTA continues to support and assist the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the November 16th Yellow Line incident.

From the beginning, the CTA has been fully committed to assisting the NTSB investigation in any way possible. We continue to provide the agency full access to equipment, facilities, records, personnel and any other information it requests.

As the NTSB Chairwoman noted, there are still a number of aspects that must be reviewed before determining the causes of this incident. We are committed to assisting the NTSB with that review.

Late last month, the CTA informed the NTSB of several interim safety enhancements we plan to implement out of an abundance of caution, prior to the Yellow Line’s reopening. A date for the reopening has not yet been set.

These are not recommendations the NTSB has provided us or requested of us. They are steps CTA feels are prudent to provide the highest level of safety. They are based on examinations and testing done over the last few weeks.‚Äč

#1—Establishing a new maximum speed on the Yellow Line from 55 mph to 35 mph.

Also, reducing the speed limit in the area where the incident occurred to 25 mph.

This will decrease the distance necessary for a train to stop, and increases the available reaction time available to an operator. CTA is taking a very conservative approach, again out of an abundance of caution.

#2—Expanded cleaning of rails.

CTA has cleaned debris and any accumulated residues, deposits or films along the running rails of Yellow Line tracks, where the train wheels operate. It will allow for more friction, which will limit the potential for slipping or sliding of wheels.

#3—Implementing what’s referred to as manual blocking for non-revenue vehicles, like snowplows and other work equipment.

Manual blocking is an operational control protocol that requires railcars and non-revenue equipment to move only after receiving a verbal command from CTA’s Control Center.  In this way, these railcar and equipment movements are closely scrutinized and monitored through human intervention and direction that does not rely solely on the control of automated systems. This manual process will provide an added layer of communications and protection.

#4—Rail operator information and awareness.

All rail operators assigned to the Yellow, Red and Purple Lines (operators who work out of the Howard terminal and can be assigned to the Yellow Line) will receive in-person overview of these precautionary safety enhancements.

#5—Supervised trips.

CTA supervisors and managers will accompany Yellow Line train operators for the first several trips when the Line reopens, providing an extra set of eyes and ears as operators make those initial trips, and allowing operators to ask any questions or receive guidance.

The CTA is currently engaged in an extremely thorough review of all aspects of the Yellow Line mentioned in the NTSB preliminary report, from signals to tracks to equipment, as well as testing trains to ensure safe operation. These activities require time to perform, and once this review is complete, CTA will determine a plan to reopen. Safety continues to be our No. 1 consideration, and reopening won’t occur until we have completed our thorough review.

While testing continues, CTA continues to provide free shuttle buses for Yellow Line customers, connecting the Howard station and the two Skokie stations, Oakton-Skokie and Dempster-Skokie.


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