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Repairs Continue At O’Hare Blue Line Station; Weekend Reopening Expected

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CHICAGO (CBS) – CTA repair crews appeared to be on track Friday morning as they scrambled to get the Blue Line station at O’Hare International Airport reopened this weekend, possibly as soon as Sunday.

The station has been closed since early Monday, when a Blue Line train derailed and smashed into an escalator at the end of the platform, injuring 37 people.

After NTSB investigators examined the wreck, and completed their on-scene investigation on Wednesday morning, CTA crews cut apart the severely damaged lead car, and removed all eight cars of the train by Thursday afternoon.

CTA officials said crews still had to repair the tracks, platform, stairs, and escalator at the station before reopening the facility, but hoped to do so by the weekend.

As of Friday morning, CTA officials had not provided a more precise estimate of when the O’Hare station would reopen, but were still aiming to get the station running this weekend.

A group of students who flew in from Kansas heard about the crash, but didn’t realize the extent of the damage until they arrived at the airport Friday morning.

“I heard about it Monday, because we had already planned this trip for quite some time, and I read it online, and it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, it should take a few days, I think. I don’t know, I don’t live here,’” teacher Ismail Farid said.

He and his students didn’t mind the station was still closed on Friday, because they can board shuttle buses to get to Blue Line trains to downtown.

The CTA has been providing bus shuttle service between O’Hare and the Rosemont station on the Blue Line since Monday to get passengers to and from the airport.

At least five people have filed lawsuits against the CTA since Monday, accusing the transit agency of negligence, and seeking damages of injuries they suffered in the derailment.

The operator of the train has admitted dozing off at the controls. National Transportation Safety Board investigators said an automated system designed to stop the train in an emergency did activate as the train approached the platform, and the brake system was trying to stop the train, but it’s unclear yet why the train could not stop in time to avoid derailing at the end of the tracks.