Home / National News / NTSB: Operator Fatigue Caused O'Hare Airport Train Derailment


(NEW YORK) — The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released a review of the train derailment at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that injured dozens.

According to an NTSB synopsis of its findings, the crash was caused by operator fatigue. The investigation explicitly ruled out mechanical condition of the train, operator inexperience, operator distraction by a personal electronic device, alcohol or drug use and weather as potential factors.

On March 24, 2014, a Chicago Transit Authority train collided with a bumping post near the end of the track at the O’Hare station, the NTSB says. The front car rode over the post and ended up climbing an escalator within the station. Thirty-three of the 50 passengers were injured, as well as the operator.

The incident is believed to have caused over $11 million in damage.

“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the train operator to stop the train at the appropriate signal due to falling asleep as a result of fatigue, which was the result of the challenges of working shiftwork, circadian factors, and acute sleep loss resulting from her ineffective off-duty time management,” the NTSB synopsis reads.

The agency also says that the CTA did not effectively manage the operator’s work schedule to minimize fatigue. It also identified design issues with the track that the train was operating on.

Finally, the NTSB offered a set of seven recommendations, improved scheduling and establishment of science-based work-hours limits, additional certification for work schedulers and the implementation of train control systems to prevent collisions and event recorders within trains.

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