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NTSB CITES TRACK CIRCUIT FAILURE AND WMATA'S LACK OF A SAFETY CULTURE IN 2009 FATAL COLLISION



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                      NTSB PRESS RELEASE

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National Transportation Safety Board

Washington, DC 20594

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2010

SB-10-29

 

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NTSB CITES TRACK CIRCUIT FAILURE AND WMATA'S LACK OF A

SAFETY CULTURE IN 2009 FATAL COLLISION

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board today determined

that last year's fatal collision of two Washington

Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains on the

Red Line in Washington, D.C., was a failure of the track

circuit modules that caused the automatic train control

(ATC) system to lose detection of one train, allowing a

second train to strike it from the rear. The NTSB also cited

WMATA for its failure to ensure that a verification test

developed after a 2005 incident near Rosslyn station was

used system wide. This test would have identified the faulty

track circuit before the accident.

 

Contributing to the accident was the lack of a safety

culture within WMATA; ineffective safety oversight by the

WMATA Board of Directors and the Tri-State Oversight

Committee (TOC); and the Federal Transit Administration's

(FTA) lack of statutory authority to provide federal safety

oversight. Additionally, WMATA's failure to replace or

retrofit the 1000-series rail cars, after these cars were

shown in previous accidents to exhibit poor crashworthiness,

contributed to the severity of passenger injuries and the

number of fatalities.

 

On June 22, 2009, at approximately 5 p.m., train 112 struck

the rear of stopped train 214 near the Fort Totten station

in Washington, D.C. The lead car of train 112 struck the

rear car of train 214, causing the rear car of train 214 to

telescope about 63 feet into the lead car of train 112. Nine

people aboard train 112 were killed as a result of the

accident, including the train operator, and dozens were

injured.

 

"The layers of safety deficiencies uncovered during the

course of this investigation are troubling and reveal a

systemic breakdown of safety management at all levels," said

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "Our hope is that the lessons

learned from this accident will be not only a catalyst for

change at WMATA, but also the cornerstone of a greater

effort to establish a federal role in oversight and safety

standards for rail transit systems across the nation."

 

As a result of this investigation, the NTSB made

recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation,

the FTA, TOC, WMATA, Alstom Signaling and transit

authorities in six states using GRS Generation 2 modules.

Issue areas included safety oversight, equipment inspection

and maintenance guidelines and procedures, and targeted

equipment removal and replacement.

 

A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause,

conclusions and safety recommendations, is available on the

NTSB website.

 

The NTSB's full report will be available on the website in

several weeks.

 

# # #

 

NTSB Media Contact: Bridget Serchak

202-314-6100

Bridget.serchak@xxxxxxxx

 

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