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Rail News: Safety

NTSB issues reports on three Washington Metro accidents


On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the final reports for three Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) accidents: A January 2010 accident at the Rockville, Md., station involving a hi-rail vehicle that struck and killed two automatic train control technicians; a February 2010 derailment at the Farragut North station; and a November 2009 train collision in the West Falls Church rail yard.

The probable cause of the Rockville accident was “inadequate safeguards designed to protect roadway workers from approaching hi-rail vehicles, and their failure to ensure hi-rail operators were aware of any roadside work being performed,” according to the NTSB.

Since the accident, WMATA has been working to address roadway worker safety by improving procedures to provide better protection, issuing a new Roadway Workers Protection Manual and upgrading all hi-rail vehicles. As a result, NTSB officials did not issue any recommendations.

However, the board did issue safety recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration. They include: notifying all rail transit agencies and state safety oversight agencies of the Rockville accident and urging them to evaluate their roadway worker protection programs to ensure other agencies are addressing the appropriate training, communication, maintenance-vehicle movement, flagging procedures, rules compliance and work-area sharing procedures.

Meanwhile, the NTSB determined that the Farragut North station derailment was caused by the train operator’s failure to follow proper operating procedures, which resulted in the train running past a red signal and over the interconnected derail. The West Falls Church Yard collision was caused by the train operator’s failure to control the movement of a train as it approached a standing train, possibly due to fatigue, according to the board.

“We welcome the National Transportation Safety Board’s thorough reviews of these incidents, which serve as important reminders of our number one priority — safety,” said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/4/2012