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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced yesterday that automatic train operation would return to its Red Line on April 13. The agency had stopped using automatic trains on the line following a 2009 collision that left nine people dead. Investigators later determined the collision was the result of a computer error. The announcement follows years of signal upgrades, independent testing and adherence to various National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, WMATA officials said in a statement. "The return of automatic train operation on the Red Line is a significant safety milestone for Metro," said Rob Troup, WMATA's deputy general manager. "I want to thank our riders for their forbearance through years of work, often on weekends, to allow us the track access necessary to perform essential signal upgrades."Initially, only eight-car trains will operate in automatic mode. Six-car trains will continue to run in manual mode until WMATA completes a software upgrade at an undetermined date, officials said.The agency's five other lines are expected to begin running on automatic mode in 2017 following track-circuit module replacement projects.Computers control trains' acceleration, deceleration and stopping in automatic mode, but train operators still ride in the cab of each train to operate the doors and make announcements, WMATA officials said.
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