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Metro Train Operator Ignored Commands In Crash: Report

Patch logo Patch 10/9/2019 Dan Taylor
a passenger train stopped at a bus stop: The Metro train operator at the center of a collision early Monday morning reportedly ignored commands.© Emily Leayman/Patch The Metro train operator at the center of a collision early Monday morning reportedly ignored commands.

WASHINGTON, DC -- A new report suggests that it may have been the train operator who was at fault in the collision of Metro trains early Monday morning that caused massive delays.

NBC 4's Adam Tuss reports that the train operator moved the train forward despite being told not to, and investigators want to talk about a safety fix for "these types of situations."

WMATA says they are still investigating and have not released their final report yet.

The collision involved two out-of-service trains between the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West stations in D.C. NBC 4 reported earlier this week that two six-car trains had to be moved to the rail yards after the collision. The trains were both headed in the same direction, and one rear-ended the other.

Audio posted on social media by Tuss -- purportedly from one train operator to the Metro control center -- indicates that the train operator felt that "someone ran into the back of me."

The incident caused major problems for the Monday morning rush hour, and those delays continued into the evening rush hour as well, with Blue, Orange, and Silver line trains most affected.

No passengers were on either train, and there was no reported damage to tunnel infrastructure.

Metro said in a late afternoon statement on Monday that they still haven't determined what caused the collision.


"While Metro has not yet identified the root cause of the incident, investigators have found no evidence of a signal system failure and have ruled out 'loss of shunt' as a cause," the statement reads. "Data analysis shows that all trains in the area were properly detected by the signal system, and appropriate speed commands were sent to the trains to maintain safe spacing.

"The investigation is also reviewing human factors as a possible cause," the statement continues. "Formal interviews of both train operators were conducted this morning by Metro safety investigators and Washington Metrorail Safety Commission investigators, and both operators submitted to required post-incident toxicology testing. The operators will remain out of service during the investigation."

WMATA made the following findings, according to the statement:

  • A low-speed collision involving two non-passenger trains occurred at 12:54 a.m. Monday, October 7, on the eastbound track (track #1) outside Farragut West Station. The trains were returning to railyards after completing special post-baseball game trips.
  • Train 755 was stopped outside Farragut West when it was struck in the rear by Train 700 at approximately 11 mph.
  • Both trains received “zero speed” commands from the signal system due to an occupied track ahead (a train on the platform at Metro Center).
  • Event recorders show Train 755 and Train 700 responded to the signal system commands and came to a stop, as required. The investigation is currently working to establish the sequence of events between Train 700 coming to a stop and the collision with Train 755.

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