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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Trains Near Fort Totten Station

Executive Summary

On Monday, June 22, 2009, about 4:58 p.m., eastern daylight time, inbound Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail train 112 struck the rear of stopped inbound Metrorail train 214. The accident occurred on aboveground track on the Metrorail Red Line near the Fort Totten station in Washington, D.C. The lead car of train 112 struck the rear car of train 214, causing the rear car of train 214 to telescope into the lead car of train 112, resulting in a loss of occupant survival space in the lead car of about 63 feet (about 84 percent of its total length). Nine people aboard train 112, including the train operator, were killed. Emergency response agencies reported transporting 52 people to local hospitals. Damage to train equipment was estimated to be $12 million.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the June 22, 2009, collision of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail train 112 with the rear of standing train 214 near the Fort Totten station was (1) a failure of the track circuit modules, built by GRS/Alstom Signaling Inc., that caused the automatic train control system to lose detection of train 214 (the struck train) and thus transmit speed commands to train 112 (the striking train) up to the point of impact, and (2) WMATA's failure to ensure that the enhanced track circuit verification test (developed following the 2005 Rosslyn near-collisions) was institutionalized and used systemwide, which would have identified the faulty track circuit before the accident.

Contributing to the accident were (1) WMATA's lack of a safety culture, (2) WMATA's failure to effectively maintain and monitor the performance of its automatic train control system, (3) GRS/Alstom Signaling Inc.'s failure to provide a maintenance plan to detect spurious signals that could cause its track circuit modules to malfunction, (4) ineffective safety oversight by the WMATA Board of Directors, (5) the Tri-State Oversight Committee's ineffective oversight and lack of safety oversight authority, and (6) the Federal Transit Administration's lack of statutory authority to provide federal safety oversight.

Contributing to the severity of passenger injuries and the number of fatalities was WMATA's failure to replace or retrofit the 1000-series railcars after these cars were shown in a previous accident to exhibit poor crashworthiness.

Accident Location: Washington , DC    
Accident Date: 6/22/2009
Accident ID: DCA09MR007

Date Adopted: 7/27/2010
NTSB Number: RAR-10-02
NTIS Number: PB2010-916302

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