Safety blitz focusing on Metro’s problem areas

There is no reason for riders to be concerned about overall incidents of crime, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file)

WASHINGTON — After an emergency Metro shutdown and consistent issues with the tracks, the Federal Transit Administration on Wednesday launched a new round of its safety blitz aimed at making sure that the Metro tracks are safe.

The FTA says it is focusing on the 27 locations where the most significant issues were found during the one-day shutdown last month for emergency electrical inspection, as well as 10 locations of concern across the rail system. Some of those locations overlap.

The segments were selected “based on their unique location (difficulty of access), the history of track defects and incidents/issues and recommendations from FTA WMATA Safety Oversight Office inspectors,” an FTA statement says.

Some of the stretches include key connections between lines, others include the oldest stretches of the system yet to be rebuilt or sharp curves that can wear out faster than other stretches of track such as the area where a train derailed near the Smithsonian station last summer.

Some areas, such as the Red Line between Friendship Heights and Medical Center, have regular problems with water getting into the system, which must be kept away from the electrical power.

The 10 stretches the FTA is focusing on are:

  • Medical Center to Friendship Heights (Red)
  • Rosslyn to Clarendon (Orange/Silver)
  • McPherson Square to Foggy Bottom (Orange/Silver/Blue)
  • Metro Center to Federal Triangle (Orange/Silver/Blue)
  • Mount Vernon Square to Gallery Place (Yellow/Green)
  • L’Enfant Plaza to Smithsonian (Orange/Silver/Blue)
  • Waterfront to Navy Yard (Green)
  • Silver Spring to Forest Glen (Red)
  • B&E Connector1 to West Hyattsville (Yellow/Green)
  • Stadium-Armory to D&G Junction2 (Orange/Silver/Blue)
Metro map
Where the safety blitz will focus its attention. Click on image to see it larger. (Courtesy FTA)

In addition to the physical condition of the tracks, the FTA is looking at the training and supervision of inspectors and maintenance workers, the use of Metro’s Track Geometry Vehicle, and how details about track defects that are detected are communicated throughout Metro.

The Track Geometry Vehicle detected a major problem before that Smithsonian derailment last August, but the warning was deleted.

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