News & Reviews News Wire CTA to resume Yellow Line operations on Friday, ending 50-day shutdown

CTA to resume Yellow Line operations on Friday, ending 50-day shutdown

By Trains Staff | January 4, 2024

| Last updated on February 2, 2024

Lower speeds among new measures in place as service returns

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NTSB investigators and CTA employees work at the scene of a collision between a Yellow Line train and snow-removal equipment on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The Yellow Line will reopen on Friday, Jan. 5. National Transportation Safety Board

CHICAGO — Service on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Yellow Line — the 4.7-mile route colloquially known as the Skokie Swift — will resume Friday, Jan. 5, ending a 50-day suspension following a collision between a Yellow Line train and a snow-clearing machine being used for training.

Service will resume at approximately 4:45 a.m.

Yellow Line operations have been halted since the Nov. 16, 2023, collision that injured 38 people, with 23 taken to hospitals for treatment. The National Transportation Safety Board has said a “design problem” with the train’s braking system was a factor in the accident, which saw the Yellow Line train hit the stationary snowplow at 27 mph [see “CTA train was in emergency braking …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 12, 2023].

The CTA said it has examined all aspects of Yellow Line operations and run test trains in a variety of weather conditions during the route’s suspension, which had drawn increasing criticism for its duration.

“We extend our gratitude to our riders impacted by this incident and for their patience,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a press release. “My No. 1 priority for our customers and employees is safety. I wanted to make sure we looked at every aspect of this incident, as thoroughly as we could, to ensure the highest levels of safety when we reopened. I will never compromise safety for expediency.”

Trains will operate at reduced speeds, with a maximum of 35 mph instead of the prior 55 mph, and with supervisory personnel accompanying operators on initial runs. An operating protocol known as “manual blocking” has been implemented when non-revenue equipment such as snowplows are present, requiring equipment to move only after receiving verbal permission from the CTA’s Control Center. And — reflecting concerns that material on the rail, such as leaf residue, could have been a factor in the accident, track on the Yellow Line has been power washed.

“The NTSB did not require the CTA to implement these safety enhancements,” CTA Chief Safety and Security Officer Nancy-Ellen Zusman said in the press release. “These mitigation measures are being made out of an abundance of caution to further protect our employees and riders.”

The NTSB — which does not have enforcement powers and can only make recommendations — is continuing its investigation into the Nov. 16 collision.

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