CHICAGO (WLS) -- A CTA Red Line train operator was assaulted by two passengers in an attack on the South Side that disrupted service Wednesday morning.
It happened around 8:45 a.m. as train #5568 left the 63rd Street station heading northbound, only to have to stop behind a train with mechanical problems.
After being stuck on the tracks for about an hour, police say the 62-year-old train operator - who had come out of his booth to determine how much longer his train would be delayed - got into a verbal altercation with two female passengers.
Witnesses said when the train operator turned to walk away from the argument, one of the women kicked him in the back, causing him to fall and hit his head on the train door.
Detectives said the two attackers then jumped onto the expressway and ran away.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Eric Dixon - whose union represents primarily train operators and other CTA workers - said his members are afraid to come to work because they are not being protected from the violence.
"I have a concern and I've been saying this to the mayor and to the superintendent and everyone else as well as the president of CTA: this is an ongoing problem and its getting out of hand," Dixon said.
In an emailed statement, a CTA spokesperson wrote that assaults on transit workers will not be tolerated, adding: "We are working closely with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to identify the individuals responsible for this unwarranted attack, and make sure they face the stiffest penalties possible."
Although bruised and battered, the injured train operator was released from the hospital in good condition. No one is in custody and no arrests have been made.
Red Line service was suspended between Cermak and 63rd, with shuttle buses running between 95th and Cermak.
Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the CTA said that Howard-bound Red Line trains were running again with residual delays.
Full statement from Chicago Transit Authority:
Assaults on CTA operators are absolutely unacceptable and won't be tolerated. We are working closely with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to identify the individuals responsible for this unwarranted attack, and make sure they face the stiffest penalties possible. Our employees are providing essential transit service every day, and we have zero tolerance for anyone seeking to harm them.
The safety and security of our employees is our top priority, and we work very closely with CPD to ensure the safest environment possible. The CTA has invested significantly in equipment and systems to keep employees safe, and we're always working with the leadership and members of ATU to enhance those efforts.
Additionally, whenever a CTA employee is assaulted while on duty, we work closely with law enforcement to ensure that felony upgrades are aggressively pursued against the offender(s).