Mayor Rahm Emanuel got a first-hand look at the derailed CTA Blue Line train after flying into O’Hare Airport on Tuesday following a fundraising trip to Florida.
When he saw the train with its lead car half-way up an escalator, Emanuel couldn’t believe his eyes.
“It’s jarring I suppose is the one word I would use to describe it … I took the train this morning. You see the train on the tracks … In your mind’s eye, you can’t imagine the train up on an escalator. It’s a very jarring picture,” the mayor said Wednesday.
“Thank God nobody was seriously injured . . . Had that happened three hours later in the middle of rush and not at 3 a.m., it could have been a whole different situation. While obviously there are still people dealing with their physical conditions, nobody was seriously hurt and that is something we have to take a blessing in.”
The CTA motorman has admitted that she dozed off before Monday’s pre-dawn crash and that she woke up upon impact, sending the eight-car train catapulting over a bumper and onto the escalator, according to an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
The motorman further acknowledged having fallen asleep at the switch and passing a station in February.
On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked what should be done about rotating shifts that only exacerbate employee fatigue and about attorney’s claims that the escalator is located too close to the O’Hare station.
“There’s going to be a complete report by the NTSB. It will relate to people maybe falling asleep. But it will also relate to other things that could have been done earlier in the system . . . You have to wait for that,” the mayor said.
“There will be a report and then, we’re going to have to understand what are the corrective actions we need to take and what they think we need to do. They’re gonna make recommendations about a whole host of things. I’m not gonna prejudge the National [Transportation] Safety Board. I’m not gonna [react to] a trickle, trickle piece of information. They’ll get you the complete report. What do we have to do from the worker piece? What do we have to from other safety pieces?”
The accident that forced the CTA to close the O’Hare station and run shuttle buses from the Rosemont station happened at 2:50 a.m. Monday, injuring 32 people and causing $6 million in equipment damage.
As the train came into the station at “25 or 26” mph, it tripped an “automatic stop” 41 feet before a bumper at the end of the track that did not prevent the train from climbing up the escalator.
Several lawsuits have already been filed by injured passengers.