Technical Reports

Accident Report of Chicago Metra Commuter Train Derailment on September 17, 2005

  • 02
  • Nov
  • 2015
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
KEYWORDS: Commuter rail; rail cars; occupant survivability; derailment; collision; injury; impacts
ABSTRACT: On Saturday, September 17, 2005, Metra commuter train 504 was heading north from Joliet to Chicago on the Rock Island District Line operated by the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, which is the commuter rail system that serves northeast Illinois. The train traversed a 10-mph switch at 69 mph, causing it to derail just south of the West 47th Street Bridge. This accident was investigated by the US Department of Transportation’s Rail Accident Forensic Team to support the Passenger Equipment Safety Research Program of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Forensic Team’s primary objective in investigating rail vehicle accidents is to estimate the complete underlying sequence of events and determine the specific causal mechanisms of injuries and fatalities. This report includes a detailed reconstruction of events, which is based on data collected at the scene and passenger interviews. The principal causal mechanism for the fatalities and serious injuries that occurred in the accident was the impact between the 4th car and the bridge girder, resulting in significant vertical forces on the rail car and structural damage to the car interior.