Washington DC Train Accident: NTSB Cites Systemic Problems Even Before the Metrorail Crash that Killed 9 People

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Metro was experiencing systemic issues even before the June 2009 Washington DC train crash that left 9 people dead and injured at least 70 others. The Red Line collision, called the worst in Metrorail’s 34-year history, involved one transit train rear-ending another during rush hour. One train ended up jackknifing and falling on top of the other train.

The Metro’s tracks were not working properly at the time and did not automatically slow down the approaching train. This means that the train operator of that train was getting messages telling her that she could keep going at a speed of 55 mph. She applied the emergency brakes three seconds after seeing the other train. Although the brakes worked, this only gave the train enough time to slow down to 44mph by the time of impact. Now, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman is saying that Metro was on a collision course long before this train accident and that its safety system had already been compromised.

Prior to the June 2009 DC Metrorail accident, there had been other fatal crashes that had killed employees. Unfortunately, according to Hersman, Metro failed to implement the needed prevented measures after they happened.

Metro says that it now assesses track circuit performance two times a day, has put into place a new test to find circuits that may be prone to problems, and is no longer mixing train control parts from different makers. Its trains are now being operated manually instead of automatically.

Meantime, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is trying to get the Washington DC wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the families of the victims that were killed in the train crash, dismissed on the grounds that the defendant is a “quasi-government entity” that therefore has “sovereign immunity” from such complaints. The families Washington DC wrongful death lawyers are fighting this request.

NTSB: Metro had systemic problems before crash, AP/Google, July 27, 2010
Where crash report leaves Metro riders, Washington Post, July 27, 2010
One Year After Deadliest Metro Train Crash, Families of Victims Oppose WMATA’s Motion to Dismiss Washington DC Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 26, 2010
At Least 9 Dead After D.C. Metro Trains Crash, Fox News, June 23, 2009
Related Web Resources:

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority

National Transportation Safety Board

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