Metro making safety changes in wake of November near-miss between moving train, workers

FILE - A woman waits to board a train as it arrives at Metro Center station, April 23, 2021, in Washington. The regional train system serving the Washington D.C. area will remain on drastically reduced service levels through at least the end of this year, as authorities grapple with a safety problem that has forced the majority of the trains out of service. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)(AP/Patrick Semansky)

A Metro train nearly hit a group of workers late last year, and the transit agency is making changes to keep its employees safe.

Information from an investigation into the incident came from a Washington Metrorail Safety Commission meeting on Tuesday. An investigation into what happened that day was prepared for the meeting.

Last Nov. 17, a train came at a high speed toward workers on the Red Line between Takoma and Fort Totten, forcing them to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.

The report says a train was moving at full speed — 59 mph — when the emergency brake was activated. It was supposed to be moving at 15 mph because there were crew members working.

The track inspectors jumped off the track and held tightly to a fence to avoid being swept up by the wind into the train.

The investigation revealed that the workers on the track did not have anyone on lookout, and that the train continued on without reporting the event.

According to the report, the train honked its horn at the workers, and the operator and rail inspector in the cab waved at them as the train went past.

The rail inspector denied being in the cab, the report said, but security footage showed there were two people in the cab, the report said.

As noted at a WMSC meeting last month, this is one of several events that have led to corrective actions related to Metrorail’s Roadway Worker Protection Program.

Until a broader two-year plan is approved, the safety commission has required Metro to temporarily designate the area as a hot spot, where the speed limit will be lowered.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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