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Accident Report Detail

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Derailment

Executive Summary

On February 12, 2010, about 10:16 a.m., outbound Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Red Line Metrorail train 156, consisting of six passenger cars, departed the Farragut North station on the No. 2 main track and was routed by the automatic train control system into a pocket track. The train operator completed the move into the pocket track and stopped the train briefly about 180 feet before the red signal at the exit from the pocket track. The operator then moved the train at 7 mph past the signal and through an electrically powered derail. The front wheel set of the lead car derailed, causing the operator to apply emergency braking and the train to stop 27.9 feet after the point of derailment. At the time of the accident, train 156 was carrying 345 passengers.

A WMATA track supervisor was in the area of the derailment at the time when the rail Operations Control Center (OCC) was trying to establish communication with the train operator. The track supervisor assisted the operator with the subsequent train inspections and radio communications with the OCC, which instructed the operator to change the operating (controlling) position to the rear car and ask the passengers to move to the rear four cars. The rear four cars then were uncoupled from the derailed lead car and moved back to the Farragut North station, where emergency responders, police officers, and WMATA officials assisted the passengers with exiting at the platform.

Three passengers sustained minor injuries: two passengers were treated on scene and released, and the third passenger was transported to a local hospital, treated, and released on the same day. Damage to the derailed lead car was about $174,000; track and signal damage was negligible.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the train operator’s failure to follow proper operating procedures, which resulted in her operating the train past a red signal and over the interconnected derail. Contributing to the accident was the failure of WMATA management to provide proper supervision of the train operator, which resulted in the incomplete configuration of the train identification and destination codes leading to the routing of the train into the pocket track.

Accident Location: Washington , D.C.    
Accident Date: 2/12/2010
Accident ID: DCA10FR004

Date Adopted: 5/17/2012
NTSB Number: RAB-12-05
NTIS Number: