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CTA Announces New Rail Operator Scheduling Rules [UPDATE]

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 4, 2014 6:00PM

Update 1:15 p.m.: CTA fired Haywood Friday. The agency issued a termination notice indicating the move was effective immediately and cited both the crash and the February incident where she fell asleep at the controls and missed a stop.

Chicago Transit Authority announced revamped scheduling rules for rail operators and improved safety protocols in the wake of last month’s derailment and crash involving a train at the O’Hare Blue Line station.

Rail operators are now required to take at least one day off during a seven day period; new operators will be limited to operating a train 32 hours a week; rest at least 10 hours between shifts; and work no more than 12 hours of train operations duty (including layover times at terminals and other non-driving rail duties) during a 14-hour period.

These changes come after it was revealed Brittney Haywood, the operator of the train that crashed into the O’Hare station, admitted to National Transportation Safety Board investigators she dozed off at the train’s controls and didn’t awaken until the train jumped the platform and stopped when it went up an escalator. Haywood, a fill-in rail operator, saw her schedule change on a daily basis, requested extra work, overslept one shift and previously fell asleep at the controls of a train and missed a stop at a station.

The scheduling of rail operators and how long they work has been a point of contention between CTA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, the union representing CTA’s rail workers, after the crash.

The new safety protocols implemented by CTA include reducing the speed limit of approaching trains to 15 mph from the current 25 mph; moving “trip arms” (the devices that stop speeding trains) further back from the end of the platform; and repeat fatigue awareness training for all rail operators. CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a statement:

“Any time an incident like this occurs, we take very seriously the responsibility of thoroughly reviewing all aspects of what happened -- including longstanding policies and practices. In this instance, there were changes we could make that are appropriate and that further maximize safety for our customers and for our employees.”