Derailments and rail collisions are down overall, but WMATA’s customer and pedestrian injury rate rose, in part due to an increase in bus crashes. The most common injuries were tied to crashes, stress or assault, lifting or repetitive motions, and slips trips and falls.
The transit agency announced plans to add new technology to its track inspection process, in addition to boosting other review timetables and safety protocols for rescue workers.
Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans acknowledged “there is no excuse” for radios not working 100 percent of the time, but downplayed the idea that there are widespread problems.
When a Red Line train derailed inside a tunnel between Metro Center and Farragut North, the train operator and a transit police officer’s radios lost contact for at least 10 minutes.
The base of the 8-foot section of rail appeared to be rusting, Metro said, even though previous automated and human inspections had not identified any problems.
Track inspectors fired over what Metro described as falsified inspection reports are simply guilty of “shoddy paperwork,” a top union leader says.
Nearly half of the Metro track inspection department has been fired or is facing discipline in response to deep problems exposed by a July derailment. Metro also revealed Thursday that riders were put at risk Monday as third-rail power remained on while they were evacuated after cars on a new train separated.
A derailment in a rail yard Thursday night caused moderate damage to the tracks and two railcars, a Metro spokesman said.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said additional weekend shutdowns may be necessary as part of a new update to the transit agency’s long-term maintenance plan. Metro is evaluating its entire schedule for 24/7 track work in the wake of a derailment late last month.
Metro fails to properly train track inspectors, does not give those inspectors enough time on the tracks and fails to fully utilize a high-tech automated inspection vehicle, a long-awaited report from the Federal Transit Administration said.
The outdated rail fasteners shown in photos aren’t as effective at keeping rails from sliding apart. Metro has long-term work plans to replace thousands of the old fasteners, which have been cited as the partial cause of previous derailments.
Federal investigators looking into last week’s derailment outside the East Falls Church station last week found an entire stretch of tracks with crumbling rail ties that should have been fixed years ago.
Metro established shuttle buses to carry displaced rail passengers to other stations. In general, passengers seemed relieved the derailment was relatively minor, with no serious injuries.
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