Chicago train derails into escalator, injures 32

AN eight-car Chicago commuter train ploughed across a platform and scaled an escalator at an underground station at one of America’s busiest airports, injuring 32 people on board, officials said.

A Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station after derailing. Picture: AP

No one suffered life-threatening injuries in the Blue Line derailment at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago fire commissioner Jose Santiago said.

An enormous disaster was avoided thanks to the timing of the crash at 2.50am local time. The bustling station is usually packed with travellers making their way to or from Chicago from the major airport, and a Chicago Transit Authority official said the crash happened at a traditionally quiet time.

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Denise Adams, a passenger on the train, told the Chicago Sun-Times she heard a loud noise during the impact.

“I heard a ‘Boom!’ and when I got off the train, the train was all the way up the escalator,” she said. “It was a lot of panic.”

CTA investigators along with the city fire department and police were reviewing security footage and interviewing the driver and other CTA workers to pin down the cause of the accident. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were expected to arrive later in the day.

“We will be looking at equipment. We will be looking at signals. We’ll be looking at the human factor and any extenuating circumstances,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. “But really at this point, it’s far too soon to speculate.”

Transit agency officials said crews were working to remove the train and fix the escalator, which received “significant damage”. Hours after the crash, the front of the first car could still be seen near the top of the escalator.

The train appeared to have been going too fast as it approached the end-of-line station and did not stop at a bumping post - a metal shock absorber at the end of the tracks.

It was not clear how many people were on board at the time of the crash, but that it took place during what is “typically among our lowest ridership time”, Mr Steele said.