CHICAGO – The investigation into the CTA Yellow Line crash is going to keep service suspended for at least several more days.
Fourteen officials from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Chicago on Thursday, just hours after the collision that injured 23 people. Officials have been on the scene of the incident since Friday morning.
As of Friday, the NTSB has not listened to event recorders. They say they’ve begun documenting the scene, taking pictures, and determining what additional information they may need. The NTSB says the rail cars will have to remain in place for up to the next five days. After that, the train equipment involved in the crash will be moved to a storage facility for further inspection.
There is no timeframe yet for when the CTA will resume Yellow Line service. While it’s closed, riders will keep taking shuttle buses that were set up after the crash.
The NTSB chair said the first stage of the investigation is fact-finding. The investigation is also forward-looking.
“The biggest question I have is what do we need to do to prevent this from reoccurring. Never ever do we want to see anyone injured or fatalities. I mean this was very serious,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said.
The feds shared more details about the investigation. Out of the 14 NTSB officials working on it, seven are investigators, and one of them is here to connect victims to assistance. That person is a member of the Transportation Disaster Assistance Team. Their role is to provide information on the resources available to victims through the Red Cross — even visiting them in the hospital to help start the process. They will stay in town until the final report is issued.
Designated parties to the investigation have already been designated. The NTSB says parties are people who can provide facts. Those parties are the CTA, Federal Transit Administration, Illinois Department of Transportation, Machinists Union District 8, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308. According to the agency, the parties’ system allows participants to immediately make changes to improve safety, without waiting for NTSB’s final report.
Five groups are being organized to concentrate on specific aspects of the investigation.
- Group 1: Crashworthiness of rail cars and survival factor.
- Group 2: Track conditions, markings, signs of braking on the track, and other portions of track.
- Group 3: Signals, signal systems, and data collected from wayside detector systems.
- Group 4: Operational aspects including the event recorder, inward and outward facing cameras, and any communications including tower and phone data.
- Group 5: Mechanical systems including brake systems.
The NTSB expects to issue a preliminary report within the next two weeks, which is expected to have facts, but not analysis. That comes later.