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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Chicago’s Metra passenger killed when commuter train strikes truck on BNSF Railway

Chicago’s Metra passenger killed when commuter train strikes truck on BNSF Railway

By | May 12, 2022

Fiery crash at Clarendon Hills station injures four

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Metra logoCLARENDON HILLS, Ill. – A woman passenger was killed here Wednesday morning and four other people were injured when a Chicago-bound Metra commuter train hit a box truck that was stalled at a crossing on the triple-track BNSF Railway main line.

Metra train No. 1242 struck the vehicle at Prospect Avenue about 8:10 a.m., according to the Chicago Tribune and other news agencies.

Officials did not release the age or name of the woman, who was pronounced dead at the site. Of the four injured, two were commuters and two were railroad employees — an engineer and a conductor. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. The truck driver and at least one other occupant managed to escape seconds before impact and were uninjured.

“All of us on Metra and BNSF Railway are devastated by this death, and we will be working hand-in-hand with the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) to find out what happened,” says Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.

The leading bilevel cab car, No. 8473, and five more bilevel coaches were being pushed toward Chicago by an F40PHM-3 locomotive. According to a video account of the incident, crossing warning lights were flashing, bells were ringing, the train’s horn was sounding, and a crossing gate had descended onto the cab of the truck, which was fouling the southernmost track of the three-track line.

On impact, the truck was shoved to the side and burst into flames. The engine and cars remained upright and in line as they came to a halt. The collision damaged the front of the cab car, but inflicted more damage on the side by ripping open the lower part of its stainless-steel flank behind the center door.

Clarendon Hills is about halfway between Chicago Union Station and Aurora, Ill., terminus of the 38-mile-long BNSF commuter district.

Metra spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile says a mechanical issue affecting another train caused a shuffling of schedules. Train 1242 normally originates at Aurora and makes all stops en route to Chicago. But on Wednesday, it was running express and was not scheduled to stop at Clarendon Hills.

By afternoon, the NTSB had begun its investigation. Metra at first suspended service on the BNSF line, then resumed it in the afternoon, but did not pick up passengers at Clarendon Hills. Westbound commuters were allowed to detrain here to retrieve their parked autos.

The agency advised passengers that delays were likely at the site, and encouraged them to consider alternate train service, including taking the parallel Union Pacific West (former Chicago & North Western) route between Chicago and Elburn, Ill. Metra announced that Thursday’s BNSF service would be operated on a Saturday schedule, with no stops at Clarendon Hills.

It was the second fatal accident in Metra’s history, Thomas-Reile says, the first occurring on Sept. 17, 2005, when a Rock Island inbound commuter train derailed at a switch, killing two passengers and injuring 46 others.

Updates on the status of Metra’s BNSF Chicago-Aurora service can be found at https://ridertools.metrarail.com/

4 thoughts on “Chicago’s Metra passenger killed when commuter train strikes truck on BNSF Railway

  1. So many questions come to mind. Reports say there was crossing work which created a bump or some kind of surface discontinuity and that the truck driver said the truck could not move after he got on the track.
    The second item I am waiting to learn is where the lady was that died. I have stood for many trips looking out the front door of the cab car which looks like it survived the accident. Amazing that there were ONLY four injuries.

  2. There is a slight curve in the direction the train was coming from. The engineer wouldn’t have seen the truck till he was only 1000 feet or so from the crossing. Also the train, normally a local, was running express that day because of other service problems.

  3. I was riding a Metra West Line express to Chicago when we struck a drunk driver at Melrose Park at 7:30AM. The front control cab threw that car at least 15-20 feet in the air and it rolled for a block on the ROW grass before coming to a stop. The hulk of the car looked like a tape ball all crumpled. (The driver lived)

    As for damage, when the auto was hit it “rolled up” the gallery car just before it launched into the air and damaged all of the air pipes, the doorway and the one engineer window was cracked.

    We had to disembark there and wait for another train to come out from OTC to pick us up. Meanwhile every news helicopter in Chicago were doing circles over the whole scene.

    Another time on the same line the train hit a minivan, but it didn’t get tossed in the air, it got pushed to the side and got stuck and when it broke free it got snagged in the skirt under the center doors of the gallery car. It finally let go but rolled into the other track and was hit again by a westbound Metra train and it blew up. That was at Elmhurst. Lots of video online about that one.

    I am sorry someone was killed. That is indeed very rare on Metra when they have incidents with crossing obstructions.

  4. I live in Jacksonville, FL, and see it all the time, drivers stopped on R.R.Tracks in traffic, seen a female driver with kids in the back seat pull out 4 cars deep to go around the gates just as a CSX train missed her not by much, stupidity at her best.

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