(Updates with CTA spokeswoman quote, policy changes and hours
By Brendan O'Brien
April 4 Chicago transit officials on Friday
fired a train operator who dozed off and did not wake up until
cars jumped the end of the track at O'Hare International Airport
and ran part-way up an escalator and stairs, a spokeswoman said.
More than 30 people were injured, though none seriously,
when the Chicago Transit Authority train crashed early on the
morning of March 24.
The train operator, who investigators and the CTA did not
identify, had been on the job for 60 days and admitted to dozing
off before the crash, according to the National Transportation
Safety Board. She also admitted to overrunning a station in
The transit authority may terminate an operator for two
serious safety violations under its contract with the union for
those workers, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.
Referring to the March 24 crash, Chase said, "an incident of
this severity is sufficient for termination."
The train was traveling at about 26 mph (42 kph) when it
entered the station, a normal speed, and tripped an emergency
braking system beside the track that failed to stop it before
the impact, according to the NTSB.
The CTA said it would lower the speed limit for trains
entering the station to 15 mph (24 kph) and move up the trip
switches to engage emergency braking earlier on trains exceeding
Robert Kelly, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union
Local 308 that represents the operators, could not be reached
immediately for comment.
Kelly said in March the woman had worked more than 60 hours
in seven days before the crash.
The CTA on Friday announced it had changed its operator
scheduling policies as the result of an internal review after
the crash at O'Hare.
The changes include a 12-hour maximum of train operation
duties in a 14-hour period and an increase in the minimum time
for rest between shifts from eight to 10 hours.
The CTA will also set a weekly 32-hour limit for operators
to run trains if they have less than one year of experience and
requiring all rail operation employees to take at least one day
off in any seven-day period.
The crash in March was the second in recent months involving
an apparently out-of-control CTA train. In September, an
unmanned CTA train ran onto active tracks and collided with a
standing train at a suburban Chicago station during the morning
rush hour, injuring at least 33 people.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mohammad
Zargham and Gunna Dickson)