NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs

Inadequate safeguards for roadway workers was cause of deadly 2010 Metro accident near Rockville station

June 1, 2012

Final reports on two other Metro accidents also released

Today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the final report on three Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) accidents, including the January 2010 accident at the Rockville, Maryland station involving a hi-rail vehicle that struck and fatally injured two automatic train control technicians.

The January 26, 2010, accident occurred at 1:40 a.m. while technicians were repairing the signal system on a section of track. The NTSB determined that the probable case was WMATA's inadequate safeguards designed to protect roadway workers from approaching hi-rail vehicles, and their failure to ensure hi-rail operators were aware of any roadside work being performed.

"Any transit agency must ensure the safety of its employees as-well-as its passengers," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "That is why the NTSB included safety management systems on its Most Wanted List. These reports underscore the need for an effective safety management system: it must be the central part of an organization's operating plan and it must be understood and embraced by all employees, at all times."

On the night of the accident, several on-track maintenance vehicles were scheduled to be moved through the area in which the automatic train control technicians were working. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate communication of vital information concerning the ongoing work on the tacks by the Operations Control Center to the on-track maintenance vehicle. The crew of the hi-rail vehicle was not advised of the presence of other workers in the area. In addition, the hi-rail vehicle operator and crew as-well-as the two automatic train control technicians all failed to appropriately and effectively observe activity on the tracks.

Since the accident, WMATA has taken several actions to address roadway worker safety. These include improvements to procedures to provide better protection to all roadway workers, the issuance of a new Roadway Workers Protection Manual, and upgrades to all hi-rail vehicles.

As a result of their proactive efforts to address the safety issues identified in this investigation, the NTSB did not make any recommendations to WMATA. However, safety recommendations have been made to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the agency responsible for ensuring state safety oversight of rail transit agencies, and to the American Public Transportation Association, which issues the Standard for Work Zone Safety.

Included in the four safety recommendations to the FTA is a recommendation to notify all rail transit agencies and state safety oversight agencies of the circumstances of the 2010 accident at the Rockville, Maryland station and urge them to evaluate their roadway worker protection programs. The purpose - to ensure other agencies are adequately and effectively addressing appropriate training, communication, maintenance-vehicle movement authority, flagging procedures, rules compliance, and the sharing of work areas by multiple work crews.

In addition to the Rockville Station accident, the NTSB released final reports on two other WMATA accidents.

A synopsis of all three reports, including the probable causes, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, are available on the NTSB website. The full reports will be available on the website in several weeks.

On May 29, 2012, a WMATA worker was involved in an accident at the Shady Grove Maryland rail yard. While the NTSB is aware of the accident, this accident is being investigated by WMATA.

NTSB Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
(202) 314-6100
Terry Williams



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.