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No Delays For Blue Line After O’Hare Station Reopens

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Updated 03/31/14 – 10:08 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – It has been smooth sailing so far for the reopened CTA station at O’Hare International Airport, after Blue Line trains got their major test since a derailment and crash one week ago.

The station reopened at 2 p.m. Sunday, and Monday morning was the first time trains ran between Rosemont and O’Hare during the morning rush. No delays or other problems were reported.

Travelers and airport workers who had been relying on bus shuttles between Rosemont and O’Hare for six days were relieved to have their commute return to normal.

Asneth Mayers said the shuttle buses added 10 minutes to her trip to the airport.

The O’Hare station was closed for more than six days, after a Blue Line train jumped the tracks and barreled up an escalator while pulling into the station around 3 a.m. on March 24. Thirty-seven people, including the train’s operator, were hurt in the crash.

The woman who was at the controls of the train has admitted dozing off as the train pulled into the station. She didn’t awake until the train had derailed.

After federal investigators spent two days at the scene examining the wreck, and collecting data to figure out why automatic braking systems weren’t able to stop the train in time, CTA crews worked frantically to get the damaged train out of the station, and make repairs to the platform and tracks so service to the airport could resume.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the crash caused $6 million in damage to the train. Officials have not said how much damage was caused to the station.

Federal investigators have said an automatic braking system engaged as the train was pulling into the station at approximately 25 mph. Although the brakes were trying to stop the train, it smashed through bumping posts at the end of the track, derailed, and smashed into an escalator.

The NTSB has said investigators do not know if a track trip system 41 feet from the end of the tracks gave the train enough room to stop in an emergency, or if there might have been some other malfunction that prevented the train from stopping in time.

The damaged escalator has been removed and replaced for now with a wooden staircase, though a new escalator should eventually be installed. The CTA also has erected a wooden barricade at the end of the center platform, where the train jumped the tracks.

“They put new barricades in, I see, with lights on top that weren’t there before; but bigger barricades,” commuter James Herrmann said.

The CTA also has reduced the speed limit for trains entering the station from 25 mph to 15 mph, and has moved the track trip system further from the end of the track, to give trains more room to stop in an emergency.

Eric Villa said he noticed the difference on Monday.

“Yeah, the train slows down a little bit more,” he said.

At least five people who were hurt in the crash have filed lawsuits against the CTA, alleging negligence, and seeking financial damages to reimburse them for their hospital costs from their injuries.