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Train Operator In CTA Blue Line Crash Identified

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 29, 2014 3:20PM

Chicago Transit Authority and the union representing its rail workers attempted to lay blame on each other for Monday's crash of a Blue Line train at the O'Hare station as the identity of the operator who fell asleep at the controls became public.

The train operator, 25-year-old Brittney Haywood, already admitted to National Transportation Safety Board investigators she dozed off and didn't awaken until just before the train jumped the rails and onto the boarding platform before crashing into an escalator. Haywood, a "fill-in operator" who has only been certified to operate "L" trains for two months, was previously reprimanded for missing a station because she fell asleep while working and was late for work on a previous occasion.

A battle is now forming between CTA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 over the amount of hours Haywood worked leading up to the crash and her fluctuating schedule. As a fill-in operator, Haywood's schedule changes on a day-to-day basis. ATU Local 308 president Robert Kelly wouldn't mention Haywood by name but told reporters Friday she worked 69 hours in the seven days prior to the crash. CTA disputed Kelly's claim and provided Haywood's records to media showing she worked 55 hours in the week preceding the derailment, had 18 hours off before Monday's accident and requested more shifts.

Kelly said Haywood was "torn to pieces" about the accident and that her work schedule highlights the problems with how CTA schedules train operators.

“Local 308’s biggest concern is the safety of our members and the riding public and this has got to stop. We have to find a way from preventing this from happening again,’’ Kelly said.

Kelly said the union will bring this scheduling issue up during contract talks next year. CTA is repairing the $6 million in damage to the O'Hare Blue Line station and hopes to have it reopened Sunday.