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Derailed CTA Train Removed From O’Hare; Station Could Reopen By Weekend

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Updated 03/27/14 – 7:16 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – CTA officials have removed damaged train cars from the escalator and platform at O’Hare International Airport, and hope to reopen the station by this weekend, following a Blue Line derailment that injured more than 30 people earlier this week.

Crews used blowtorches to cut apart the cars, which were hauled away on flatbed trucks. Now that the train has been removed from the station, repairs must be made to the platform, tracks, stairs, and escalator before reopening the station, which has been closed since the crash shortly before 3 a.m. Monday.

“At this time, we continue to anticipate that the station will re-open sometime this weekend,” CTA officials said in an email.

Meantime, CTA officials already have said they will lower the speed limit for trains entering the station from 25 mph to 15 mph. Trip switches designed to automatically apply the brakes on trains going faster than that will be moved back as well, to give trains more room to stop.

The operator of that train has admitted she nodded off at the controls, and didn’t wake up until the train derailed. It wasn’t the first time she fell asleep on the job. Last month, she missed a stop when she dozed off, and was reprimanded.

She has been placed on “injured on duty” status, so has not been working since the crash. The CTA has said she might be fired once an investigation is complete.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the train was going 25 mph as it entered the station, and the trip switches activated. The train was trying to stop, but it smashed through bumper posts at the end of the track, and barreled up the escalator. Investigators have not yet determined why the train was unable to stop before reaching the end of the tracks.

The NTSB has wrapped up its on-scene investigation and is taking back recordings from dozens of security cameras at the station and from the train itself as part of their investigation into why the train failed to stop.

Investigators said the existing trip switches at the station were 41 feet from the end of the track, but they have not yet determined if that is the proper distance to stop trains in an emergency.

Thirty-seven people, including the operator, were injured in the crash. At least four passengers have filed lawsuits accusing the CTA of negligence.

Since the crash, the CTA has been running bus shuttles between the Rosemont stop on the Blue Line and O’Hare, to get passengers to and from the airport.