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Train Operator One Focus Of CTA Blue Line Crash

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 25, 2014 1:30PM

The investigation into Monday's crash involving a Blue Line train at the CTA O'Hare Airport station is underway and the president of the union representing the agency's rail workers said operator fatigue may be suspected as a contributing factor.

Robert Kelly, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, basically threw the operator of the train under another proverbial one at a news conference. Kelly divulged the female operator who has been with CTA for a year "works a lot of overtime," "worked a lot of hours in the past week," admitted to him she was "extremely tired" and "the indications are she may have dozed off" before the train derailed, jumped on the platform and stopped halfway up an escalator.

That's your union head, CTA rail workers, having the back of one of your rank-and-file.

News reports indicate the operator told her supervisor she nodded off right before the crash. She is being interviewed by NTSB investigators and underwent a drug and alcohol screening after the crash, as required in these incidents. Kelly said the operator "assured me there would be no problem with her passing" the test, although one can assume he'd be more than eager to step behind a gaggle of microphones and let reporters know she failed and what she tested positive for.

Thankfully the NTSB is leaving no stone unturned in their investigation and is also looking at other contributing factors including braking and other mechanical errors, if the switching system was operating properly, how fast the train was moving as it entered the station and if the operator responded in a timely fashion. NTSB investigator Tim DePaepe said his team is gathering videos to determine what exactly happened leading to CTA's version of the closing scene from Silver Streak.