Investigations are underway as to what led two CTA blue line trains to crash into each other earlier this morning. The transit accident occurred in the Forest Park neighborhood shortly before eight o’clock this morning. The accident involved one train that was in operation and one train that was out of service and which had been parked for repairs. At this point it appears that somehow the out of service train rolled out of the station and collided directly with the train that was in operation, and which had about forty passengers onboard.
Part of the reason for all the confusion is that there are certain procedures and safety measures in place to assure that nothing like this happens. The train had to have somehow passed through two stopping points/switches for the accident to occur. This early in the investigation, it is unclear whether the switches malfunctioned or if there may have been foul play involved. Investigators did state for the record that there was no evidence of broken windows, pried open doors or other vandalism at this time. In addition to the safety switches and the locks in place to keep a train from moving when parked, there is an alarm that goes off when the train is traveling too fast and if the operator does not reduce speed in two seconds from the alarm beginning to sound, the system is supposed to automatically brake.
However, since so many safety precautions appear to have failed simultaneously, the investigation will also include a look into if the accident may have related to human error. While it is believed that the train was entirely empty, investigators will not yet rule out the possibility that there could have been someone on some part of the four-car train when the accident occurred. Unlike on airplanes, CTA trains do not have a recording device (similar to a “black box”), so there is no recording of what was happening on the empty train at the time of the accident, which makes the investigation more difficult since there are also no eyewitnesses to the accident known at the current time.
The accident caused thirty-three passengers to suffer personal injuries, many being thrown to the floor of the car upon impact. The injuries were likely reduced, because according to the Chicago Tribune, the train that the empty train crashed into was stopped at a blue line stop at the time of the impact. The injuries were also likely not as serious as they could have been because the design of the CTA trains are made in a way that the train themselves take the brunt of the impact to better protect the passengers. The train fronts look like they “crumbled” upon impact, however this reaction saved the passengers from what could have been very serious injury.
Although it is unknown what happened to lead to this accident, it is likely that the passengers who were injured in the accident will file personal injury lawsuits against the CTA and possible other responsible parties should those emerge. If the accident was caused by either malfunction or human error, the victims should be able to recover damages from the party liable or responsible.