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CTA Train Derailment Risks for Chicagoland Commuters

Casey Woodruff

CTA trainIf you live in Champaign, Aurora, Naperville, or another city in the greater Chicago area and commute to work, you may be familiar with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The CTA is responsible for bus and train service that runs in and around Chicago, including the “L” trains. Over the last several years, numerous CTA train derailments have occurred. In some cases, those derailments have resulted in serious injuries to engineers and passengers. Such derailments also force us to question whether commuter rail travel poses unnecessary risks to passengers. Indeed, according to an article in USA Today, trends in commuter rail accidents in major urban areas have led to serious safety concerns.

To better understand the risk of mass transit accidents and injuries, we should take a closer look at recent incidents in which these trains have derailed.

Recent CTA Train Derailments Impacting Residents of Chicago

Over the last few months, two significant CTA train derailments alerted commuters and other passengers throughout the Chicago area to the risks of commuter train travel. At the end of October 2015, an article in the Chicago Tribune reported a CTA Red Line train derailment on the North Side of the city. According to that article, the derailment was a “minor one” in which no serious injuries were reported, but one of the passengers reported seeing people who were “super anxious” after the derailment occurred. The incident happened on a weekend afternoon, and normal rail service did not resume until just before 7:30 p.m. that evening.

Another notable CTA train derailment occurred on the Brown Line in late November 2015. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune about the derailment, the accident happened in the train yard in the Northwest part of the city. Although no passengers were present at the time of the derailment, the engineer did suffer injuries and was transported to a local hospital by emergency responders. The incident occurred just after 7:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, and it resulted in suspended CTA train service for at least a couple of hours.

Less than two years ago, 33 people suffered serious injuries when a train “rammed the end of the tracks in the O’Hare International Airport terminal, rocketing out of the track well and up an escalator,” according to a report from NBC Chicago. This CTA accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), resulted from the engineer’s fatigue—the train conductor fell asleep at the controls. But the NTSB emphasized that the CTA was at fault as it “had inadequately taken fatigue of its employees into account” when scheduling its engineers.

Commuter Rail Accidents: Getting the Facts

How often are CTA and other commuter trains involved in accidents? According to the USA Today article, the Federal Transit Administration regulates CTA commuter trains, along with those of other major metropolitan areas. Here are some data points concerning commuter rail accidents and injuries:

  • In the last decade, passenger and commuter train accidents have declined by nearly 45 percent;
  • Derailments over the last ten years have declined by nearly 42 percent;
  • Collisions involving commuter and passenger trains have dropped by about 50 percent; and
  • Commuter rail ridership has increased during that period.

In other words, more people are riding commuter trains and fewer accidents and injuries are taking place. However, according to Jim Hall, the former chairman of the NTSB, “passengers should be concerned about their safety.”

Contact a Chicago CTA Accident Attorney

While commuter train travel ultimately appears to be getting safer, accidents do continue to happen. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a CTA train derailment, you should speak with a dedicated Chicago CTA accident lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to discuss your case.

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