Safety audit points to numerous Metrorail issues

Metrorail is again coming up short when it comes to safety, according to the rail system’s watchdog.

Washington Metrorail Safety Commission audit found that, in a number of areas, Metrorail is not meeting its own written requirements, does not have adequate procedures in place and lacks adequate training, coordination and supervision.

In one example, Metro station managers told the commission they had to train themselves on new fare gates. That self-training included ensuring they could open the gates in emergencies.

The audit outlines several specific incidents, including one involving a train with passengers that was moved onto a side track at the Franconia-Springfield Station in August, instead of going into service in the opposite direction.

An investigation found the terminal supervisor was watching a video and had been doing that on a regular basis.

The audit said Metrorail is not effectively training and certifying train operators on each type of railcar. WMSC said training and certification are heavily focused on the 7000 Series fleet, which is currently sidelined because of wheel set issues, and that older generation railcars “have very different features and system characteristics.”

Workers described Metrorail’s approach as focused on getting a job done, even if contrary to rules and procedures, according to the audit.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission said the audit was based on interviews, site visits, document and data reviews conducted in 2021. As a result, the commission issued 14 findings requiring Metrorail to develop corrective action plans.

The commission’s next meeting in Tuesday, April 12.

WMSC’s previous safety audit was released on Feb. 22.

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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