Nearly 40 people were injured in a commuter train accident in Chicago that involved a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train and snow removal equipment.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, it is looking into a “design issue” in the braking system of a train.
NTSB chairperson Jennifer Homendy said that the equipment had likely been stopped at the time of the collision.
The federal safety officials who are investigating the Chicago commuter rail crash, which injured almost 40 people after it hit snow removal equipment, have focused on a “design issue” with the braking system.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Jennifer Homendy stated that the Chicago Transit Authority was traveling at 26,9 mph when the train struck the snow removal equipment on the tracks, which were conducting winter training.
She stated that preliminary information led her to believe that the equipment with six CTA employees onboard was stopped by the crash of the train.
Homendy stated that the NTSB initial calculations, based on factors like the speed of the train and the number passengers aboard, indicated it was designed for a stop within 1,780 foot to avoid anything in its path. The train did not stop in time, crashing into the snow removal equipment.
Our team was able determine that the problem was actually a design issue. She said that the braking distance was too short.
Homendy stated that NTSB investigators “are very focused on the design and braking issue, and why the train did not stop.” She added that they are reviewing CTA’s braking algorithm in order to determine if it is adequate.
She said that investigators have discovered thick black “debris” residue on the tracks, which is still being evaluated.
Homendy stated that the NTSB determined that there was no problem with CTA’s signals system or how it communicated to the train. However, he cautioned this is only a preliminary conclusion that could change.
Homendy stated that CTA data showed there were 50 times in November when trains had to be slowed down because of other equipment on the tracks. None of these incidents resulted into a crash.
She stressed that CTA’s system was safe, and investigators have not yet determined if other CTA trains may also be affected by similar brake system problems.
I would take the train today, tonight or tomorrow. Homendy stated that he had no concerns about the safety of taking the train, noting 43,000 Americans who die each year in motor vehicle accidents.
Homendy stated on Friday that it is likely the NTSB would need between a year and 18 months to complete a report with conclusions, recommendations, and an analysis of the incident.
The CTA train, which was headed south from Skokie at the time of the crash, rear-ended the equipment for snow removal in Chicago’s North Side. Twenty-three people were injured; 38 were transported to local hospitals. Officials said that no one was seriously injured.