Metro oversight agency report on October crash points to train operator

A scathing new report points a finger at a Metro train operator and the role this person had in a crash last fall.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, Metro’s independent oversight body, said one train was actually speeding up when it slammed into the back of another near the Farragut West station. The incident happened just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 7, following a Washington Nationals playoff game.

It was after closing hours, the report said, so only the two operators were on board the trains. Both were treated at the hospital and released. Still, there were major delays the next morning.

The collision buckled rail car floors and ceilings, and at least one rail car hit the top of the tunnel, said commission expert Bruce Walker. The buckled ceilings also meant some emergency exit doors were unusable.

The striking train’s operator did not immediately report the collision and provided false statements during the investigation, Walker said. Phone records also show that the operator’s phone was in use at the time of the crash, although it couldn’t be proven that the phone was in the operator’s possession. The operator refused to hand a phone over to investigators.

The striking train’s operator has previously been disqualified after being involved in multiple safety lapses in 2006 and 2006, including a collision. But the operator returned to the rails, and was involved in a derailment in 2013, among other incidents. The operator no longer works for Metro.

Six train cars were totaled in the October crash, and replacing them will cost about $12 million.

“To be clear, this was not just a low-speed collision involving trains that were out of service,” said Commission CEO David Mayer. “This was the most significant collision on Metro’s main line tracks in years. If there had been passengers on either of those trains, there likely would have been serious injuries,” he said.

Read the report:

WMSC W0030 Collision Oct 7 2019 Farragut West by wtopweb on Scribd

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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