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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 telescope1 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.
TO THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: Seek authority similar to Federal Railroad Administration regulations (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 219.207) to require that transit agencies obtain toxicological specimens from covered transit employees and contractors who are fatally injured as a result of an on-duty accident.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Unacceptable Response
Washington, D.C., DC, United States
Collision of Two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Trains Near Fort Totten Station
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FTA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We are aware that your statutory authority is limited to testing urine samples from covered personnel in the case of a fatality, and we note that you do not yet have statutory authority to use other body fluid or tissue specimens from an employee’s remains for toxicological testing. However, after reviewing the entirety of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, we disagree that satisfying this recommendation is unattainable, as neither act has eliminated the reasoning behind our issuing it, nor does either preclude you from requesting authority to perform the recommended testing. Our recommendation addresses two important safety items that are included on our Most Wanted List (MWL) of Transportation Safety Improvements: Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight and End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation. In the 7 years since we issued this recommendation, fatal accidents have continued to occur in which illicit drugs have been detected through toxicological testing. We encourage you to seek the authority, as requested in our safety recommendation, to require transit agencies to obtain toxicological specimens from fatally injured on-duty employees and contractors. Until you seek authority similar to the FRA’s to require that transit agencies obtain toxicological specimens from covered transit employees and contractors who are fatally injured as a result of an on-duty accident, Safety Recommendation R 10-5 is classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Carolyn Flowers, Acting Administrator: In your letter dated June 14, 2011 to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested the status of safety recommendation R-10-005, issued by the NTSB on August 10,2010. In R-10-005, the NTSB recommended that the FTA seek authority to require transit agencies to obtain toxicological specimens from covered transit employees and contractors who are fatally injured as a result of an on-duty accident. This recommendation arose from NTSB's investigation of a June 22, 2009, accident in which two heavy rail trains operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority collided with one another near the Fort Totten station, killing eight passengers and the driver of the second train, injuring another 52 persons, and causing $12 million in property damage. Congress did not grant the FT A statutory authority in either the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, to obtain toxicological specimens from fatally injured transit employees and contractors. FT A's statutory authority is still limited to the testing of urine samples from covered personnel, which is difficult, if not impossible, in the case of a fatality. I request that you change the status of this recommendation to "Closed- No Longer Applicable."
As you mention in your letter, the NTSB is aware that the FTA’s statutory authority is limited to the testing of urine samples from covered personnel in the case of a fatality and that you do not yet have statutory authority to undertake other body fluid and/or tissue specimens from the remains of an employee for toxicological testing. We are also aware that, on March 10, 2011, Senate Bill S.562, the “National Metro Safety Act,” was introduced in the 112th Congress to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to establish national safety standards for transit agencies operating heavy rail on fixed guideway. We note that you are currently seeking the necessary authority to require toxicological testing as part of your surface transportation authorization proposal. Accordingly, pending the FTA’s obtaining such authority, Safety Recommendation R-10-5 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201100083: - From Peter Rogoff, Administrator: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) shares the NTSB's concerns regarding the importance of conducting toxicological testing as a means of determining, as well as eliminating, potential causes of fatal accidents. Currently, FTA's statutory authority is limited to the testing of urine samples from covered personnel, which is rendered difficult, if not impossible, in the case of a fatality. As the NTSB correctly acknowledges, FTA must seek statutory authority to undertake toxicological testing, and to that end, the Obama Administration submitted the Public Transportation Safety Program Act to both chambers of Congress in December 2009, seeking the authority to establish uniform Federal regulatory standards for the transit rail industry. It is my sincerest hope that Congress will pass the legislation in its entirety. In addition, FTA is seeking statutory authority to require toxicological testing as part of its surface transportation authorization proposal, and at the staff level, FTA staff has met with their counterparts in the Federal Railroad Administration and in the US Department of Transportation's of Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance to discuss various approaches to toxicological testing in anticipation of a potential rulemaking. While rail transit is safe, the Administration believes we must take serious steps now to make it even safer and ensure that it remains safe. We are all aware that rail transit has the potential for catastrophic accidents with multiple injuries, considerable property damage, and heightened public concern. Thank you for this opportunity to respond to the NTSB's recommendation, and please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, comments, or concerns regarding the Administration's legislative proposal. Only through such a combined effort can we focus our nation's attention and resources on this important issue and to maintain public confidence in the safety of our passenger rail systems. Thank you for taking time to express your views. I very much appreciate your letter. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at (202) 366-4040, if you have any further questions.
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