Metro safety reports reveal wrong-way train, man falling onto tracks

The independent agency that oversees Metro safety released dozens of reports detailing troubling incidents on the rail system over the past year, including a train heading the wrong way on the tracks.

According to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, the dangerous incident happened May 21 during single tracking on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

“The rail operations control center instructed a train operator of an inbound train to offload a train at Foggy Bottom,” the commission stated in its report, adding that the train operator was then told to switch from the inbound tracks to the outbound tracks before heading toward Virginia.

Instead of switching, the train continued to Virginia on the inbound tracks, heading straight toward a train that was on the same tracks at the Rosslyn station.

The operator stopped the train after being contacted by the rail operations control center.

“By the time the operator stopped the train it had moved about 840 feet,” said Natalie Quiroz, an investigations analyst with the commission, during a meeting on Tuesday.

According to Quiroz, the operator had been confused about where the actual track-changing was supposed to take place.

“The train operator was not familiar with the territory,” the report stated. “Metrorail is evaluating line platform instructor and line familiarization training improvements.”

Metro said it gave refresher training to both the train operator and the controller who had been in charge at the rail operations control center.

Lucky to be alive

Another report provided details related to a scary situation May 8 on the Orange and Silver lines where a man slipped and fell off a moving train.

Jemayne Walker, a track expert with the commission, said the man had been trying to walk between railcars.

“The rider stated that they attempted to hold on but eventually fell onto the tracks,” Walker said.

“Forward-facing video from a following train shows something on the roadway near the third rail just before Clarendon station, which, based on the totality of the evidence, was most likely the injured person,” the report stated.

Walker said the man was seriously injured and was extremely lucky to have survived as he walked along the tracks and managed to avoid the electrified third rail.

According to the report, the man walked to the Clarendon station, boarded another train toward the Vienna station and then took a bus to the Tysons Corner station “where they entered the station not wearing shoes, holding their right arm and generally appearing in disarray.”

Walker said in trying to walk between railcars, the man had ignored numerous warnings that are posted inside trains, telling riders never to do that.

“This includes a stop sign and the words ‘Do not open. Emergency use only,'” Walker said.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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