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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) Train 504

Executive Summary

On Saturday, September 17, 2005, about 8:35 a.m., eastbound (inbound) Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) train 504 derailed one locomotive and five cars at milepost (MP) 4.7 near West 47th and South Federal Street in Chicago, Illinois. The train was being operated in the push mode from a cab control car at the lead end. The train had departed Joliet, Illinois, at 7:24 a.m. en route to the LaSalle Street station in downtown Chicago. The train crew consisted of an engineer in the cab control car and a conductor, an assistant conductor, and a collector in the passenger cars.

The train derailed as it traversed a crossover from track 2 to track 1 that had a prescribed maximum operating speed of 10 mph. The train was traveling 69 mph as it entered the crossover. The second through the fifth cars from the lead end of the train struck a steel girder that was part of a bridge that carried the tracks over 47th Street. Both turnouts of the crossover and one power switch machine were destroyed. Following the accident, Metra relocated the track to a new bridge adjacent to the original bridge.

Metra reported that 185 passengers and 4 crewmembers were on the train. There were 109 passengers, 4 crewmembers, and 4 others injured. Additionally, two passengers were killed. The derailment occurred during daylight hours, in sunny, clear weather with a temperature of 65° F.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the September 17, 2005, derailment of Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra) train 504 in Chicago, Illinois, was the engineer’s inattentiveness to signal indications and his failure to operate the train in accordance with the signal indications and the speed restriction for the crossover at Control Point 48th Street. Contributing to the accident was lack of recognition by Metra of the risk posed by the significant difference between track speed and crossover speed at the accident location and its inaction to reduce that risk through additional operational safety procedures or other means. Also contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control system.

Accident Location: Chicago , IL    
Accident Date: 9/17/2005
Accident ID: DCA05MR013

Date Adopted: 12/21/2006
NTSB Number: RAB-06-07
NTIS Number: