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Investigation into Washington, D.C. Metro crash finds need for new safety rules

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NTSB photo of the 2009 accident
Image: NTSB.

An investigation into the fatal 2009 Washington Metro train collision conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for new safety and maintenance rules. The report, released today, blamed the crash on the faulty automatic train-control system. The report also cited the use of dated 1000-Series train cars. The 2009 crash, which killed 9 and injured 80, occurred during the evening rush between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations on the Red Line.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said that the system is currently regulated by state and local agencies. She called for Federal oversight. "Now it’s really time for them to step up to the plate and for Congress to address the issue," Hersman said during the release of the findings.

In 2009, Hersman told Congress that Federal safety guidelines should be set saying "the state oversight system is not effective, they don’t have any teeth." Currently the Federal government has control of interstate transit systems, not regional or local transit systems.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said yesterday that it would replace all of it's 1000-Series trains with newer models. After the crash, then WMATA general manager, John Catoe said that "the system is safe." WMATA's interim general manager Richard Sarles said that "We are committed to considering and following through on the findings and recommendations."


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