The Chicago Transit Authority received a report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the factual findings of two separate rail collisions that took place last summer. The first incident occurred on June 17, 2001, just south of the Addison Street Station on the Blue Line, and the other on August 3, 2001, on the elevated track near Oak and Orleans streets at Church Curve on the Brown Line.
Both collisions consisted of a standing train being struck by the train behind. In both instances, the NTSB determined that the primary cause of the collision was operator error. In each case the operator of the striking train did not follow proper CTA procedures. As a result of the rule violations, both operators of the striking trains were discharged from the CTA.
In addition, the NTSB said that a contributing factor to each accident was failure of the CTA to exercise adequate safety oversight. Immediately following the accidents the CTA took steps to strengthen its oversight and has continued to modify and tighten procedures as needed.
"The safety of our customers and employees is the top priority day in and day out at the CTA," stated Frank Kruesi, CTA President. "For that reason, CTA management worked very closely with the NTSB at each stage of this investigation. As a result of the investigation, we have implemented additional safeguards to strengthen the safety rules and evaluation processes already in place."
Following the accident on the Blue Line, the CTA implemented mandatory refresher training courses for anyone qualified to operate a train. To ensure that all operating employees maintain the highest level of qualification for their jobs, recertification is now required every two years for rail transit operators as well as switchmen, towermen, rail service supervisors and rail instructors.
Also following the Blue Line accident, the CTA immediately changed the procedure it used for cab signal use in CTA construction zones. Operators now get a flashing light warning them that they can not exceed speeds of 15 mph while in a construction zone.
In addition, the CTA has increased the number of line-ride checks conducted annually to ensure employees are following CTA Standard Operating Procedures and Rail System Rules. These line rides, which were previously conducted twice annually by training staff, are now the responsibility of rail operations management staff and will be conducted up to eight times annually.
The CTA also closely monitors any operator who incurs an operating violation to assess their ability to continue performing in their current classification. Past records of operators have also been reviewed.
"Everyone at the CTA works hard to make rail and bus operations as safe as possible," continued Kruesi. "The CTA is committed to providing quality, affordable transit services that are on time, clean, safe and friendly."# # #