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NTSB Considers Emergency Measures After Chicago Rail Crash

Oct 4, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it is considering emergency recommendations for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), based on some early findings resulting from its investigation into a Monday morning train crash on the CTA’s Blue Line. NTSB officials are concerned about the possibility of a future accident.

Monday’s accident involved an empty and out-of-service train, which suddenly began moving from the rail yard during morning rush on Monday. The cars traveled about half a mile, at speeds of up to 20 m.p.h., before crashing into a stopped train in the Harlem station. The accident occurred despite “trip” strips and other failsafe protections that should have brought the train to a stop, the Chicago Tribune reports. Preliminary review of security videos shows no sign that anyone was on board the runaway train.

More than 30 riders on the in-service train suffered minor injuries. A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of a passenger on the train that was struck. The suit alleges that the CTA "carelessly and negligently" operated the trains in the collision, according to the Tribune.

NTSB officials are collecting evidence at the scene and expect to finish that work by Saturday. The cars from the runaway train and the in-service train are being towed to a CTA facility for examination and testing. Despite the federal government shutdown, NTSB officials continued their work because of the sensitivity of the perishability of some of the evidence at the scene and because of the possibility of “imminent safety threats,” according to an NTSB official. The entire investigation will take up to a year to complete, officials said.

The Tribune reports that two of the four cars that escaped from the rail yard Monday were waiting to be taken to the CTA's Skokie Shop repair facility.

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