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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-09-017
Synopsis: On Monday, June 22, 2009, about 4:58 p.m., eastern daylight time, southbound WMATA Metrorail train 112 was traveling in a curve when it struck the rear end of Metrorail train 214 before reaching the Fort Totten station. There was no communication between the train operators and the Metrorail Operations Control Center before the collision. During the collision, the lead car of train 112 telescoped and overrode the rear car of train 214 by about 50 feet. Examination of the track and wreckage indicated that the emergency brake on train 112 was applied before impact. The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service reported 9 fatalities and transported 52 persons to local hospitals.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: Advise all rail transit operators that use audio frequency track circuits in their train control systems that postaccident testing following the June 22, 2009, collision between two rail transit trains near the Fort Totten station in Washington, D.C., identified that a spurious signal generated in a track circuit module transmitter by parasitic oscillation propagated from the transmitter through a metal rack to an adjacent track circuit module receiver, and through a shared power source, thus establishing an unintended signal path. The spurious signal mimicked a valid track circuit signal, bypassed the rails, and was sensed by the module receiver so that the ability of the track circuit to detect the train was lost. (Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Washington, D.C., DC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA09MR007
Accident Reports: Collision of Two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Trains Near Fort Totten Station
Report #: RAR-10-02
Accident Date: 6/22/2009
Issue Date: 9/22/2009
Date Closed: 4/27/2010
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FTA (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 4/27/2010
Response: The NTSB is pleased that the FTA immediately alerted all rail transit operators to examine track circuits that may be susceptible to parasitic oscillation and spurious signals capable of exploiting unintended signal paths, and to eliminate those adverse conditions, in coordination with the transit agency signal and train control equipment manufacturer. We are also pleased that copies of the FTA’s Dear Colleague letter were posted on the FTA’s website the same day. This prompt action satisfies Safety Recommendations R-09-17 and -18, which are classified CLOSED -- ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FTA
Date: 11/6/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 11/18/2009 1:23:58 PM MC# 2090687 - From Peter M. Rogoff, Administrator: Thank you for your letter dated September 22 regarding the ongoing investigation of the June 22, 2009, collision between two Metrorail trains on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) Red Line. This letter provides you with the status of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) activities to address the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Safety Recommendations R-09-17, R-09-18, and R-09-19, resulting from the Board's investigation of the collision that caused nine fatalities at the Fort Totten Station. On the same day these recommendations were issued, I sent an FTA Dear Colleague Letter advising all fail transit operators of these recommendations and urging them to examine track circuits that may be susceptible to parasitic oscillation and spurious signals capable of exploiting unintended signal paths, and to eliminate those adverse conditions (Enclosure 1). FTA had already begun work with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) on the Board's earlier urgent recommendation (R-09-07) to survey the industry on track circuit monitoring systems in use and plan a meeting with transit signal specialists to discuss the Board's recommendations. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 12-13 in Washington, DC. NTSB's staff will be asked to join us. The NTSB staff has met with FTA, APTA personnel, and TCRP consultants to help all parties better understand the recommendations so we can more effectively assist the industry on this important matter. On October 14, I urged the nation's rail transit agencies to respond promptly to the TCRP signal system survey and to participate in the upcoming meeting (Enclosure 2). FTA will also be working with the 27 State Safety Oversight agencies that oversee 47 rail transit systems around the country and asking them to follow up with each transit agency and monitor progress on implementation. We will continue to keep you informed.