O’Hare Airport Train Crash Causes Injury for 32 Passengers

Driver fatigue may have played a factor in the crash and derailment of a Chicago commuter train at O’Hare Airport early yesterday, which left dozens injured.  

The crash occurred at 2:52 a.m. on Monday, when the eight-car train failed to stop at the end of the Blue Line and jumped the track, sending the lead car actually up an escalator. At least 32 passengers reported suffering an injury, but indications suggest that none are considered life-threatening.

The cause of the train derailment is currently under investigation by the Chicago Transit Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). However, yesterday morning Robert Kelly, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 306, reported that the driver of the train was extremely tired at the time of the accident.

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The driver, so far unnamed, had worked a lot of overtime before the accident, Kelly claims. NTSB officials say the plan to interview her about the accident, but she was hospitalized at the time. It is unclear whether she has yet to be released or interviewed.

Service on the Blue Line of the Chicago commuter train, known as the “L” train, has been suspended between O’Hare and Rosemont. The line was undergoing some renovation at the time of the crash, but it is unknown whether that could have played a factor.

Both track work and driver fatigue have been factors in commuter crashes in recent years.

In December, a Metro-North train in New York City derailed after it went around a curve too fast. Four were killed and dozens injured in the crash. The driver admitted to “nodding off” and “falling into a daze at the controls” just before the accident.

In a D.C. Metro crash in June 2009, which led to nine deaths and more than 80 injuries, the accident was blamed on a faulty part of the track’s crash avoidance system. The Wee-Z bond sensor, which had been replaced just five days before the accident, was found to be defective and began intermittently losing its ability to detect trains. As a result, one train smashed into another with such force that many people were ejected from the train upon impact.

Even more deadly was a Los Angeles Metrolink commuter train accident in September 2008. That accident, blamed on the driver who was both fatigued and texting around the time of the crash, occurred when the commuter train collided head on with a Union Pacific freight train after running a red control light. The crash killed 25 people and injured 134.


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