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Feds To Transit Agencies: Test Stop Systems In Wake Of O’Hare Blue Line Crash

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(CBS) – The recent crash that injured 32 people at the CTA’s O’Hare Blue Line terminal has prompted a review of emergency braking situations at all U.S. transit agencies that operate rail systems.

Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan calls it an “urgent safety concern” and specifically cites the March 24 CTA accident, which remains under review by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FTA is urging transit systems to:

- Ensure there’s enough track space to allow emergency brakes to stop trains safely in terminal stations.

- Immediately test automatic signals and trip stops under actual operating speeds and to resolve any problems.

CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase said the transit agency has already undertaken such a review in the aftermath of the March accident. The CTA has also

The agency also has “implemented changes to employee scheduling to help ensure the safest possible environment for both customers and workers,” Chase said.

The CTA reduced the speed limit entering the O’Hare terminal to 15 mph following the accident, down from 25 mph. It also moved the stopping point for trains farther back from the bumping post.

A preliminary NTSB investigation determined that the train’s automatic braking system engaged but failed to stop the train before it hit the bumping post at the end of track, overrode it and landed on an escalator.

Chase did not say if changes have been made at other CTA ‘L’ terminals in the wake of the March accident.

The federally suggested precautions are fine to Robert Kelly, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308.

“I couldn’t agree with them more,” he says.

Although Metra is not covered by the FTA safety advisory, Executive Director Don Orseno said the commuter rail agency would undertake a similar review to determine if the types of changes McMillan outlined in her letter require changes in authorized train speeds or other changes at terminals.

The operator of the Blue Line train involved in the March accident admitted to dozing off; she was fired. CTA President Forrest Claypool said Wednesday that she has not contested her dismissal.

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