After a series of missteps by Metro in response to an insulator explosion and a second fire that occurred at the same station last Thursday, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued a series of urgent safety steps for the transit agency.
According to the FTA, after a third rail insulator exploded on Thursday, a Metro operations supervisor performed an inadequate inspection of the scene before ordering the track back into service.
The Rail Operations Control Center then initially denied maintenance personnel permission to remove the track from service in order to inspect the rail. Trains continued to operate across the potentially dangerous track for hours before permission was given for inspections.
It was only after a second fire and smoke incident occurred later in the day that the stretch of rail was closed.
In a directive issued Friday, the FTA has ordered Metro to take “urgent action” to address its failure to ensure passenger safety, including daily tests for hotspots, increased measures to prevent water leaks in tunnels, mitigation of fire and smoke risks, and reductions in the use of electrical power. It also ordered a “safety stand-down” to retrain all staff on appropriate safety measures.
The FTA, which over took safety oversight of Metro in October, was acutely critical of the transit systems lack of urgency and safety. It stated significant concerns about the overall safety of the system.
The Metro General Manager also revealed Friday a year-long repair and maintenance plan, called “Safe Track,” that will aim to address a number of safety concerns. The plan will stop operations every night at midnight, will implement single-tracking, and will shut down parts of the system for the next year.
A History of Inadequacies
Both announcements come after the release of a number of reports detailing a long history of inefficiencies and safety problems associated with the system.
A recent report determined that the Jan. 12, 2015 Metro smoke incident that killed one person was caused by poorly maintained power cables and cable connection assemblies on the track. The situation was greatly worsened by the botched actions of poorly trained controllers.
Another report provided detailed information about a number of problems that had been overlooked by Metro until the FTA took over, including triple the number of safety defects and significant amounts of incorrectly fastened rails. The FTA has initiated 47 safety investigations since October.
At Goldberg Finnegan, our personal injury lawyers are committed to holding negligent parties responsible for the harm they cause to others. If you or someone you love has been injured or died in a Metro accident caused by the poor maintenance or negligent actions of Metro staff, our train accident lawyers can help you seek compensation.