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September 30, 2013

Partial Release of NTSB Report on CTA Blue Line Ghost Train Finds Persons in Error, not Ghosts.

by Ed Vincent
Updated October 5th

The National Transportation Safety Board noted today that the train was allowed to leave the train yard through five separate safety mechanisms due to the failure of person to operate the yard correctly since a "master lever on the operator console had been left in a setting that allowed the train car brakes to recover and reset." Which permitted the train under power to leave on a wrong track going the wrong way without a driver and put at risk countless lives in the process.

A full report will be issued by the NTSB later, while the investigation continues.  It would be expected things to change quickly, including new workers and managers in several departments.

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Glen Rak

A Blue line CTA train was at the Harlem stop in Forest Park, Illinois when a train coming from the service yard in Forest Park somehow bypassed multiple safeguards and crashed into a train with passengers on board.  The accident happened at about 7:42 a.m. Monday, September 30th.

Somehow the train left the yard on the wrong track, avoided two or more safety stops, started itself without a known key or operator and smashed into the train with people on it at about 20 mph.

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photos by Glen Rak

The Blue line at Harlem was out of service for the next two days and the injuries could have been much worse.  Some of the fortunate parts of the crash are that only one train had people on it, they were not elevated at the time, the aluminum construction acted like a carbon fiber race car and absorbed a lot of the energy from the collision.

The train waiting at the Harlem Avenue stop is reported to have had about 40 passengers waiting to depart the station when they were hit.  That speed and energy could have been cut in half or more by the energy used in the partial destruction of the moving train, seen in the crumpling metal in the photos.

There were no life threatening injuries reported, though 33 people were taken to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.  There were even reports of people on the platform claiming injuries of an emotional sense and others trying to board the train after the impact.  That news has not been confirmed by cameras at this time. 

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Glen Rak

The FBI and some members of Homeland security came by for an investigation.  The official inquiry was a short investigation for terrorism or other nefarious deeds.  They were soon replaced by members of the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) which puts the direction of the investigation from a more criminal angle to one of human error and or neglect.

Below is an NTSB report from a previous CTA accident.  We are waiting for the official report of this accident, but with the government shut down the time for the report will increase.

On May 28, 2008, about 10:05 a.m., southbound Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line train 003 traveling on elevated track between Harlem/Lake Avenue station and Cottage Grove derailed after crossing switch 85A, which was lined against the direction of the train at south main track marker 338 in Chicago, Illinois. (See figure 1.) Train 003 consisted of fourpassenger cars coupled in sets of two.

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

On the day after the accident the accident area with damage was covered to help preserve the scene of the investigation.  The investigation though would soon turn to the means and cause of the crash, which happened before the actual accident.

On the second day there were numerous K-9 Security officers at the scene, though without their dogs.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photos

The Train yard where the trains are repaired, stored, and readied for service has a simple fence easy to climb without adequate security.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

Several Yards further leads to an area where a child walk through and venture onto the third rail and death.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

We are told not to judge a book by its cover but sometimes the environment does dictate the organism that enhabit an area, region, or organization.
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This gentleman without a uniform noted could be an undercover FBI, NSA, NTSB, donning a hat or maybe someone meandering through the fence.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

The tracks and switches in the yard are decorated with scrap material and rusted metals that could be problomatic if they were too close to  a track in operation.  I am sure they are on  the schedule to be cleaned up before the next train accident.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photos

Multiple high definition cameras record all yard activities.
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

The blue line accident in Forest Park appears to be headed on a track of professional incompetence. Spokespersons for the CTA after the initial news release were keeping quiet and instructing all of their staff to make no comments to reporters. A cover-up of ineptitude seems to have pervaded the majority of the organization. There were Chicago Tribune reports in the 1990s showing double-digit percentages of CTA drivers with expired licenses.

24 hours after the crash the train yard in Forest Park was unsecured, dangerous, And without any signs of security unless you count the cameras mounted on the corner in the front of the one building. These cameras should have recorded all the events of the prior days debacle's. A man seen wandering out one of the doors without an apparent uniform seemed to be caring a bag of garbage while meandering about the buildings grounds where discarded and disheveled chairs were prominently lined up on the wall for rest and relaxation. Refuse found on the ground between switching tracks third-hand chairs, no uniforms, improperly secured yard entry, displays an air of unmanaged activities. On one corner of the yard a gate is open wide enough for an adult or child to wander only several feet before coming in contact with the third rail and possible death. Either a person with nefarious motives or an innocent youth could gain access to the yard with unknown consequences.

The press we're told by union leaders that nothing like this had ever happened  in over 27 years. Some reporters had called this occurrence a ghost train perhaps due to its proximity to many cemeteries in the area or perhaps with tight lips and ludicrous management there's was only a ghost of a chance of getting a reasonable explanation for a potentially deadly event.

The blue line is back into full operation now that all of the damaged cars have been removed from the track and sent to repair.

The National Transportation and Safety Board should finalize the report soon and have it published for the public to examine.

The condition of elevated tracks on the green line between Forest Park and Chicago is another example of a disaster just waiting to happen. When the elevated train nears the maximum speed of 55 mph, the jostling and rocketing of the train on the tracks above the street leaves too many seasoned riders  unnerved.  I have been on trains all over the world the ride on the green line at high speeds is the worst I have ever experienced.


Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.
published by Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.