Safety rules not followed after Red Line train doors opened on wrong side

WASHINGTON — A Metro train operator did not follow proper safety procedures after a Red Line train’s doors opened on the wrong side at an elevated station this week.

The train operator has admitted that the doors opened on the wrong side at the Rhode Island Avenue Station due to his own error, Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader told a Metro Board committee Thursday.

The incident was also not immediately reported to the Rail Operations Control Center as required by Metro policy, and the train operator did not walk around the train to ensure that all passengers were safe, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said later.

Metro safety rules require that in the event of the door opening on the wrong side that the train operator immediately walk around the train to ensure that no one fell out of the train or experienced any other safety issues and to be sure the train is in working order. That process would also lead to the train being taken out of service.

Instead, Metro’s Daily Service Report published Thursday morning suggested that the train continued to operate on the Red Line after the incident, and was not taken out of service for another 40 minutes. Riders had tweeted about the doors, directing their messages at Metro. WTOP also called to ask about the doors.

The six-car train was taken out of service and moved to a rail yard for safety inspections at 9:38 a.m. By then, the train had already turned around and continued on to Farragut North.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld declined to provide details about how Metro learned about the incident, citing the ongoing investigation and personnel matter.

The train operator was removed from service while the incident was investigated, Metro had said previously.

The failure to report the incident could lead to additional discipline for the train operator, Stessel added Thursday.

Past incidents of doors opening at the wrong time have also been blamed on operator error.

And Metro has failed to follow proper safety procedures in the past when riders have exited trains, including failing to turn off power to the electrified third rail in some cases.

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