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NTSB Finds Systemic WMATA Safety Issues From Red Line Crash Investigations

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Today in a five hour long hearing, (not including a one hour long lunch break) the NTSB released their findings on the 2009 Red Line crash. Chairwoman Hersman kick off the hearing with opening remarks that highlighted the thoroughness of the report, the importance of its findings and immediate need for WMATA to take action to rectify what Hersman called “WMATA’s anemic safety culture.”

As Tom pointed out earlier today, many of the findings had already been unearthed. NTSB Engineer Payan spent a good length of time both describing and fielding questions about the failures of the Automated Train Operation (ATO) system and the WEE-Z bond sensors that caused the first train to essentially disappear from the track circuitry sensors and made the second train speed up and, tragically, slam into the first train. Prior to the crash, circuit failures like this were happening so often that WMATA employees became desensitized to the alerts and would ignore them. More shocking is that since the crash, WMATA has identified about 290 track circuits capable of this same failure and has not replaced them. No word on if WMATA is currently paying more attention to the alerts. Continue reading