Articles Posted in Public Transportation

CTA Train Accidents and Who is to BlameUpon the conclusion of an investigation into the March 2014 train derailment at the Chicago Airport, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and federal investigators determined multiple parties should share the blame. The Blue Line accident occurred at approximately 3 AM in the morning. Authorities concluded driver fatigue likely played a role in the accident after determining the operator was exhausted from working 12 straight days in a row.

In the eight car accident, 32 individuals on board suffered serious injuries when a commuter train derailed at O’Hare International Airport. Eyewitness accounts and video recordings indicate that the train was traveling at too fast a speed while approaching the “end of line” train station. At the accelerated speed, the commuter train never stopped in time to avoid a shock absorber “bumping post” positioned at the end of the train tracks.

Before coming to a complete stop, the train crashed into a platform after scaling an escalator that provided ingress and egress to the underground station. The early morning timing of the accident likely played a crucial role in saving many lives and casualties. This is because the active station at the airport is typically heavily congested with travelers and employees at busier times of the day.

What Happened in Fatal Derailment?On the morning of May 12, hundreds of lives were changed when an Amtrak passenger train careened around a curve at twice the speed advised for the section of track and derailed, injuring most of the 238 passengers on board and resulting in eight deaths reported in the first week.

Following the Amtrak derailment, officials, politicians and lawyers have all mounted to point fingers as investigators still work tirelessly to determine the exact cause of the accident. While many of the details of the incident are still hazy, what is crystal clear is that more must be done to address the issue of transportation safety as well as to prevent accidents of the same nature from ever occurring again.

Officials Quick to Indict Engineer

Derailment Occurred Because of Sleep DeprivationIn December 2013, a derailment on the Metro-North railroad line injured more than 60 passengers and killed four. The train was traveling at excessive speed as it attempted to make a tight curve on the rail line in the Bronx, New York. In a report released in October 2014 by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), it was determined that the probable cause of the accident was human error, or more succinctly, the result of undiagnosed sleep apnea.

As the accident was occurring, the train was speeding at 82 miles an hour along the curve with an enforced maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. Had the rail line installed available braking system safety equipment, the brakes would have been automatically engaged, slowing the train to a manageable speed, minimizing the potential of a collision.

In released federal documents, the commuter train engineer William Rockefeller was shown to be suffering from a severe sleeping disorder at the time of the accident. His previously undiagnosed severe obstruction sleep apnea caused him to feel “dazed” and “mesmerized” while looking straight ahead while the train was moving. Additionally, blood drawn after the accident showed traces of allergy medication containing sedating properties. Rockefeller claims he felt in a hypnotic state and was shaken from the sensation to instinctively pull the train’s emergency brake at the last moment.