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About 2:49 a.m. on March 24, 2014, Chicago Transit Authority train No. 141 collided with the bumping post near the end of the center pocket track at O’Hare Station. The lead car rode over the bumping post and went up an escalator at the end of the track. The escalator provided public access to enter O’Hare International Airport from the platform in the station, but no one was using it at the time of the accident. About 50 people were on the train at the time of the accident. Thirty-three injured passengers and the injured train operator were taken to the hospital. The estimated damage was $11,196,796. The accident occurred in an underground station that was not impacted by weather conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the train operator to stop the train at the appropriate signal due to falling asleep as a result of fatigue, which was the result of the challenges of working shiftwork, circadian factors, and acute sleep loss resulting from her ineffective off-duty time management. In addition, Chicago Transit Authority failed to effectively manage the operator’s work schedule to mitigate the risk of fatigue. Contributing to the severity of the accident was Chicago Transit Authority’s failure to identify the insufficient stopping distance and inadequate speed restriction at the center pocket track at O’Hare Station.
TO THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: Require rail transit agencies to implement transmission-based train control systems that prevent train collisions. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation R-09-008)
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Chicago, IL, United States
Preliminary Report Railroad DCA14FR007
Chicago Transit Authority Train Collides with Bumping Post and Escalator at O’Hare Station
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FTA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that you intend to thoroughly evaluate existing research of this technology before determining whether to require the implementation of transmission-based train control systems for all rail transit agencies that receive federal financial assistance under Title 49 United States Code Chapter 53. Pending completion of this evaluation and action that satisfies Safety Recommendation R-15-22, the recommendation is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Therese W. McMillan, Acting Administrator: The FTA will thoroughly evaluate existing research of this technology before determining whether to require the implementation of transmission-based train control systems for all rail transit agencies that receive Federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53.
On July 23, 2009, as a result of the May 28, 2008, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train collision in Newton, Massachusetts, the NTSB recommended that the FTA: Facilitate the development and implementation of positive train control systems for rail transit systems nationwide. (R-09-08) The FTA responded by organizing a November 2009 meeting with transit train control experts and asking for industry input on implementing PTC. In June 2010, the FTA indicated that it was developing a research proposal on PTC that would recommend actions to FTA. The NTSB classified Safety Recommendation R-09-08 Open—Acceptable Response. The FTA has not provided any further updates on its activities in response to Safety Recommendation R-09-08 in the 5 years since the meeting. The NTSB generally expects that actions in response to recommendations can be completed within 5 years after the recommendation was issued. During the 5 years since the FTA meeting, the NTSB has continued to investigate rail transit accidents where a PTC or TBTC system would likely have prevented the accident. The FTA now has legislative authority to require the implementation of a positive train control system, commonly referred as transmission-based train control systems on transit properties. The NTSB recognizes that TBTC systems are most often used on transit properties and is making a recommendation in this report to address this issue. Therefore, Safety Recommendation R-09-08, previously classified “Open?Acceptable Response,” is now classified"Closed--Unacceptable Action/ Superseded." Safety Recommendation R-09-08 is superseded by Safety Recommendation R-15-22.
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