Feds approve Metro’s plans to cut down on red signal violations

WASHINGTON — The Federal Transit Administration has approved new plans from Metro aimed at helping to cut down on the number of trains running red signals.

In a letter dated Aug. 21, the head of the FTA’s Metro safety oversight office Jamie Pfister accepted the final three of 11 total corrective action plans meant to make riders and workers safer. Metro had revised the plans several times at the direction of the FTA before getting final approval.

The final three plans address ways to make signal markers more visible to train operators with more reflective materials or colors, adding location and directional information at the ends of platforms that also describe upcoming signals, and a review of ways to prevent trains from moving when automated systems show the equivalent of a zero speed limit.

The FTA directed Metro to come up with the 11 fixes last August after a series of trains were operated past red signals, including one incident where a train operator nearly ran over workers on the tracks because he was apparently in a rush to get to a break after what Metro Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin described at the time as a “childish dispute.”

Directed Metro to come up with the 11 fixes last August

The other eight fixes, approved in May, address training, supervision, fatigue and internal oversight.

Among the requirements: regular reviews of radio communication quality and protocols.

Some of the first random audits of Rail Operation Control Center Traffic by Metro’s internal quality control group found consistently good radio usage when the controllers knew someone was watching, but poor radio protocol when tapes were pulled of the radio traffic at other times.

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