Metro to check train operators for speeding, running red signals

WASHINGTON — Metro is launching new checks aimed at cutting down on the number of trains that speed and run red signals.

Metro Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin said “efficiency testing,” which checks in on train operators during their shifts, will help Metro get a better handle on the situation.

“They’re piloting several areas: one of them is going to be red signal overruns … the other area that we requested they focus on is this area of overspeeding,” Lavin said last week.

The Federal Transit Administration helped Metro find someone with Federal Railroad Administration experience in similar programs who is helping to design the checks at Metro.

Train operators have run more than a dozen red signals across the Metro system this year alone, in some cases only barely avoiding head-on collisions.

In addition to a closer watch on operators, Metro has moved to make some signals brighter. Lavin has also recommended cutting the top speeds Metro trains can run after data showed many train operators were going faster than Metro’s speed limits.

“Live testing is one of the things that we’re starting to do, which we haven’t done in the past, and it’s done at other railroads,” General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said.

Speeding has been of particular concern in work zones. Two federal safety inspectors just barely dodged a speeding train in a work zone last month.

Trains are supposed to slow down around workers, but Lavin said at least some train operators have not been aware of the proper procedures.

“We cannot guarantee anybody’s safety if the basic rules and procedures are not followed,” Federal Railroad Administration Chief Safety Officer and Metro Board Member Robert Lauby said after the failures tied to the near miss were revealed last month.

Metro has also issued memos and launched new training to emphasize the importance of speed limits and red signals.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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