Thousands of students and workers use CTA trains as their daily means of transportation; in fact, many people in the Chicago area would not even consider driving a car downtown. CTA trains are efficient, flexible, time saving and often a cost-effective alternative to driving. Even better, train travel is also one of the safest methods of transportation.
As seen throughout our accident blog, however, transportation accidents unfortunately take place every minute around the country. While careless motorists cause a significant number of these accidents, such as those who speed, drive under the influence, or drive distractedly, others types of transportation collisions are often unforeseeable and are simply unavoidable. Today an outbound CTA Blue Line train was stopped at the Harlem Station in Forest Park at 8am this morning when an out-of service train was going the opposite direction on the same track. The conductor of Blue Line “saw the moving train coming at him with no one in the front car,” according to the Forest Park Mayor. Witnesses yelled for the train to stop or slow down, but just seconds later it hit the Blue Line head-on.
Chicago Tribune reported that even though the train was traveling at a moderately slow speed, the impact knocked passengers to the ground. Witnesses said they could hear screaming from inside of the train because the passengers were in shock. Nearly 50 passengers were taken to 10 local hospitals; thankfully, a CTA spokeswoman stated that they only experienced minor injuries.
The report continues to state that authorities issued a 4th alarm after the accident, meaning that all ambulances were instructed to drop off the passengers at the hospitals and immediately return to the scene immediately. 8-12 fire departments responded to the collision and emergency crews worked all morning to assist passengers, talk to witnesses, and clean up the crash. CTA released that the Harlem ramps to and from Interstate 290 were closed, and bus shuttle service became available between Kedzie and Forest Park.
It is still unclear why both trains were on the same track. Authorities believe that the moving train would have needed to be started to get moving on the tracks, but no one was driving at the time of the accident. The Mayor told reporters that there does not appear to have been criminal activity involved; allegedly, some of the cars on the train that struck the stopped Blue Line had been scheduled for maintenance, so he hopes the accident was caused by mechanical failure.
This accident emphasizes the importance of enforcing rail safety regulations to ensure that mechanical failures do not happen. Safety mechanisms should have stopped the moving train automatically before it entered the station. Mechanical failures can cause other serious train accidents like derailment, collisions with semi trucks, or even collisions with pedestrians crossing railroad tracks.
From the perspective of our CTA train accident attorneys, train crashes cause a significant amount of harm throughout Illinois each year. This includes personal injury, damage to property, or even emotional damage to passengers and their families. Though at this time we do not know who is to blame for this morning’s train collision, when individuals do suffer injury in a train accident due to a negligent driver, they have the right to file lawsuits to hold wrongdoers accountable. Not only do train accident lawsuits help victims receive compensation for the harms caused to them, these actions also help to make transportation systems safer by encouraging officials to create safer practices to prevent future litigation.