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Emergency braking sensor too close to stop Chicago train crash: NTSB

By Barbara Goldberg

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An emergency braking system sensor was too close to the end of the rails to stop a passenger train that jumped the tracks and ran part-way up an escalator at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, federal safety investigators reported on Monday.

The Chicago Transit Authority train was traveling 26 miles per hour (42 km per hour) when it derailed early on the morning of March 24, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.

A fixed trip stop, the device that is supposed to stop a train if it is approaching too quickly, was 41 feet from a bumper at the end of the tracks, the NTSB found.

"Due to the train speed, the distance from the fixed trip stop to the track bumper post was too short to stop the train," the NTSB report said.

The train operator, who worked nearly 60 hours over the previous seven days, told investigators she had fallen asleep as her train entered the airport station. The CTA said it had fired the operator on Friday for the serious safety violation.

More than 30 people on board the train were hurt, none of them seriously, and lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of some of the passengers.

The NTSB report said the damage to the equipment and the station was estimated at $9.1 million.

Since the crash, the CTA has lowered the speed limit of trains entering the O'Hare station to 15 miles per hour (24 kmph), and moved the fixed trip stop back to provide more stopping distance, CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said in an email.

It also limited scheduled work hours for employees "to help ensure the safest environment for both customers and workers," Hosinski said.

(Editing by David Bailey and Andrew Hay)

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