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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Train T-111 with Standing Train at Shady Grove Passenger Station

Executive Summary

About 10:40 p.m. on January 6, 1996, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail subway train No. T-111, operating on the “Red Line” segment of the Metrorail system, failed to stop as it entered the above-ground Shady Grove passenger station near Gaithersburg, Maryland, the final station on the Red Line. The four-car train ran by the station platform and continued about 470 feet into the Metrorail yard north of the station, where it struck a standing, unoccupied subway train that was awaiting assignment. The T-111 train operator was fatally injured; the train’s two passengers were not injured. Total property damages were estimated to be between $2.1 and $2.6 million.

Probable Cause

The Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority management and board of directors (1) to fully understand and address the design features and incompatibilities of the automatic train control system before establishing automatic train operation as the standard operating mode at all times and in all weather conditions, (2) to permit operating department employees, particularly Operations Control Center controllers and supervisors, to use their own experience, knowledge, and judgment to make decisions involving the safety of Metrorail operations, and (3) to effectively promulgate and enforce a prohibition against placing standby trains at terminal stations on the same track as incoming trains. Contributing to the severity of the injuries to the train operator was the disproportionate amount of crush sustained by the lead cars of the colliding trains.

Accident Location: Gaithersburg , MD    
Accident Date: 1/6/1996
Accident ID: ATL96MR008

Date Adopted: 10/29/1996
NTSB Number: RAR-96-04
NTIS Number: PB96-916304