Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro)

DC: NTSB Closes Three Metro Safety Recommendations

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has closed three more Metro safety recommendations, bringing the total number of recommendations closed to 24 out of 29.

The three recommendations closed by NTSB this week were all issued in the wake of the 2009 Fort Totten collision:

  • R-10-12 Conduct a comprehensive safety analysis of the Metrorail automatic train control [ATC] system to evaluate all foreseeable failures of this system that could result in a loss of train separation, and work with your train control equipment manufacturers to address in that analysis all potential failure modes that could cause a loss of train detection, including parasitic oscillation, cable faults and placement, and corrugated rail. Closed - Acceptable action.
  • R-10-13 Based on the findings of the safety analysis recommended in R-10-12 incorporate the design, operational, and maintenance controls necessary to address potential failures in the automatic train control system. Closed - Acceptable action
  • R-10-17 Develop and implement a non-punitive safety reporting program to collect reports from employees in all divisions within your organization, and ensure that the safety department; representatives of the operations, maintenance, and engineering departments; and representatives of labor organizations regularly review these reports and share the results of those reviews across all divisions of your organization. Closed - Acceptable action

Last week, Metro was awarded the Gold Award for Safety from the American Public Transportation Associationfor its roadway worker protection program, and at an industry event, National Safety Council President and former NTSB Chair Deborah Hersmann noted that Metro has gone “from worst to first among [its] peers.”

“We are committed to closing the five remaining NTSB recommendations as soon as possible, while maintaining our focus on fostering a culture of safety, shared responsibility and vigilance,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles.

In the now five years since the Fort Totten incident, Metro has improved safety through its massive rebuilding program focused on safety projects. Metro was the first heavy rail system in the U.S. to implement a confidential close-call reporting system that captures data not otherwise captured and provides opportunities for Metro to identify safety issues that require preventive action.

The remaining five recommendations involve longer-duration projects – such as replacement of Metro's entire 1000-series fleet with new 7000-series railcars. The first 7000-series trains are expected to enter service late this year.