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Two Rear-End Collisions Involving Chicago Transit Authority Rapid Transit Trains at Chicago, Illinois, on June 17 and August 3, 2001
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Event Summary

Board Meeting : Two Rear-End Collisions Involving Chicago Transit Authority Rapid Transit Trains at Chicago, Illinois, on June 17 and August 3, 2001
9/4/2002 12:00 AM


Within a 2-month period in 2001, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) experienced two similar rear-end collisions involving CTA rapid transit trains. Both accidents were preceded by the train operators' having failed to comply with operating rules designed to prevent collisions. The investigation of the two accidents highlighted deficiencies in the CTA management's approach to ensuring rules compliance among its operators. This special investigation report addresses the factors common to both collisions.

The first accident occurred about 11:40 a.m., central daylight time, on Sunday, June 17, 2001, when CTA train 104, en route from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport, collided with standing CTA train 207 on the Blue Line near Addison Street Station. Each train consisted of four passenger cars. About 75 passengers were on train 104, and about 40 passengers were on train 207. Eighteen passengers, an off-duty CTA employee, and both train operators sustained minor injuries. The CTA estimated damages at $30,000.

The second accident occurred about 9:04 a.m., central daylight time, on Friday, August 3, 2001, when CTA Brown Line train 416, en route from Kimball to downtown Chicago, collided with standing CTA Purple Line train 505 on elevated tracks near Hill Street. Each train consisted of six passenger cars. The accident occurred during morning rush hour, and both trains had standing loads estimated at 90 passengers per car. Chicago Police Department logs indicate that 118 people were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries, none of which were life threatening. The CTA estimated damages at $136,138.

This special investigation report discusses the following safety issues:

  • The adequacy of the CTA's programs for ensuring compliance with its operating rules;
  • The adequacy of the CTA's system safety program plan and its internal safety audit program for identifying and resolving systemic safety issues; and
  • The adequacy of event recorders on rail transit vehicles.


As a result of this special investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Chicago Transit Authority, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Federal Transit Administration.


As a result of its investigation of the two Chicago Transit Authority accidents discussed in this report, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

New Recommendations

To the Federal Transit Administration:

Adopt the American Public Transportation Association manual that contains updated language on auditing the effectiveness of operating rules compliance programs, and simultaneously modify 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 659 so that the Part always references the current American Public Transportation Association manual. (R-02-18)

Require that new or rehabilitated vehicles funded by Federal Transit Administration grants be equipped with event recorders meeting Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standard 1482.1 for rail transit vehicle event recorders. (R-02-19)

To the American Public Transportation Association:

Include specific guidance for transit operators on performing unannounced rules compliance observations and efficiency tests as the General Rule Standard for Rule Compliance and Implementation is developed. (R-02-20)

Modify the Manual for the Development of Rail Transit System Safety Program Plans to provide specific guidance for transit agencies to use in auditing the effectiveness of their operating rules compliance programs by referencing the American Public Transportation Association standard covering transit rules compliance and efficiency test programs as audit criteria. (R-02-21)

To the Chicago Transit Authority:

Develop and implement systematic procedures for performing and documenting frequent management checks to ensure all operating personnel are complying with Chicago Transit Authority operating rules, including speed restrictions and signal rules. (R-02-22)

Recommendation Reclassified in this Report

To the Governors of the States of Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia and the Mayor of the District of Columbia:

Develop or revise, as needed, existing programs to provide for continual and effective oversight of rail rapid transit safety. The elements of the oversight program should include reviews of maintenance and inspection records, accident investigation activities, audits of system safety program plans, reviews of the transit system safety department, reviews of training programs, monitoring of accident data, and periodic inspections of equipment and infrastructure.

Safety Recommendation R-91-37, previously classified "Open-Acceptable Response" (Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) and "Open-Awaiting Response" (Georgia and the District of Columbia) is reclassified "Closed-No Longer Applicable" in the "State Safety Oversight of Rail Rapid Transit Systems" section of this report.

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