A year after a runaway Blue Line train tore through the station at O’Hare airport, the station’s escalator still hasn’t been repaired, forcing arriving O’Hare passengers to struggle with luggage to the platform below.
The accident, during the early morning hours March 24, 2014, injured dozens of people and caused more than $6 million in damage. Motorman Brittney Haywood was fired, having admitted that she fell asleep at the train’s controls. The O’Hare station marks the northern terminus of the Blue Line, and the train actually jumped the tracks and ran up the escalator, tearing it apart. But a year later, a wooden stairway remains in its place.
The CTA insists it is working to replace the escalator, but that it’s a complex project.
“The contractor is finalizing construction plans, and parts fabrication is already underway,” spokesman Brian Steele said in a statement. “Construction will begin in the second quarters of this year, and be complete by year’s end.”
Steele noted that the station still has an “up” escalator, and an elevator which services all levels.
The CTA adds that it instituted many safety enhancements after the crash, including lowering the speed limit of trains entering the O’Hare station to 15 mph vs. the previous 25. Engineers also moved the fix “trip stops”, which manually stop a train if need be, further back, to increase stopping distance.
In an effort to minimize crew fatigue, the agency also took these steps:
• Setting a maximum of 12 hours of actual train-operation duty for rail employees in a 14 hour period. Previously there had been no maximum
• Increasing the minimum time of rest between shifts to 10 hours, from the previous eight.
• Requiring all rail employees to take at least one day off, in any seven day period.