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Major Train Crash on the WMATA Subway


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There was a major accident involving the Red Line WMATA at the Fort Totten station. It seems like one train collided with another one and one of the trains are on top of each other. News is reporting massive casualties and 1 death so far. More to follow.

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This is sad to hear, today has been a bad day, first the stuff going on in Iran and now this. IDK what the cause was but if it was speeding then maybe the WAMTA should do like what NYCT did and slow the trains down and add more timers.

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Hears an update DC Metro subway train crash today 6/22/09 that has killed at least 2 people. Here story from Washington Post.


At least 2 dead on Washington Metro subway train

By Christopher Dean Hopkin, Robert Thomson

Post Staff Writers(ongoing story) updated 645pm EDT

June 22, 2009


A collision between two Metro trains on the Red Line between Takoma and Fort Totten stations in the city northeast section, has left two people dead and many seriously injured, according to preliminary reports.


Here's a link to a Twitter picture, a screen shot from Channel 9. It shows one train car resting on top of another. Rescue workers are struggling to get injured passengers off the trains and out on stretchers.


D.C. Fire/EMS spokesman Alan Etter said: "We have a number of injuries ... And we have dozens of injuries. The fire department is still in the process of extricating people from the cars. We're using heavy rescue equipment to cut open the cars to get whoever's trapped in there out."


Many details about the accident are unclear. First reports said there one train derailed before the other train collided with it, but that may not have been the case. New reports from passengers suggest it was a head-on collision between the two trains. There are many safety systems designed to prevent such a collision.


"There will obviously be a very thorough investigation into what caused this derailment," said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. She said passengers were being taken to hospitals."Our hearts are with the families of those who have passed," she said.


WAMTA officals are asking the publc to avoid the Red Line. It is Metro's busiest, and this will cause a large and long backup at the height of rush hour.Trains are operating between Glenmont and Silver Spring and between Shady Grove and Rhode Island Avenue. Metro says that shuttle bus service has been requested to bridge the gap between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue, but any bus bridge is quickly overwhelmed by the passengers from just a couple of trains.


Riders already in the system can get out without being charged a fare if they exit the same way they came in, Metro is telling passengers.


Metrobuses up 16th Street and up Georgia Avenue can get people to Silver Spring.


MARC is arranging a bus bridge beginning at Rockville. Commuters in Washington and Silver Spring are advised to take Metro to Shady Grove. Commuters south of Germantown are advised to make alternative travel with local area buses.


The Green Line is operating to Geenbelt, but is extra crowded.


Casey Anderson, a Red Line rider bound for Silver Spring, said his train had been stopped near New York Avenue. Passengers were receiving little information. The train went up to Rhode Island Avenue Station, where passengers got off. "So far, they're just off loading the trains," Anderson said.


He's getting on an inbound train back to Union Station, where he's going to try to find a cab, or perhaps get his bike, for the trip home.


Today's accident is at least the third collision between Metro trains to result in casualties in the past 15 years.


The most recent collision occurred in November 2004 when an empty train between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park stations slid backward down a steep grade and into a train at the Woodley Park station at about 30 miles per hour, sending 20 people to the hospital. The driver of the second train was credited with beginning a rapid evacuation of the train before the collision.


As in today's crash, one train wound up on top of the other. See photos of the aftermath of that collision here.


National Transportation Safety Board investigators found after that accident that operators were ill-informed about what to do if their train began rolling backward too quickly, and that many were under the impression that all Metro trains had computerized systems that would prevent such accidents.


The other crash happened in January 1996, and also involved overreliance on Metro trains' computer systems. In that case, a train operator was killed and two passengers were injured when their train's computerized brakes failed and it slid through the Shady Grove station during a blizzard and collided with an out-of-service train.


The train was moving at 75 mph at the time of the crash and had already slid through two stations, but at the time, Metro operators were not permitted to manual control braking during bad weather.


c)2009 Washington Post, Inc.



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My condolences go to anyone affected. However, I don't think WMATA should slow their system down with timers the way the (MTA) has. They just have to nip all possible causes of this crash in the bud and a crash like this will never happen again.

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here's the report i watched on DC's Fox 5: a train was outside of FT Totten station waiting to pull in. the train behind it slammed into the back of the stopped train, lifting off the track and got its lead car "cored" landing on top of the train it hit. 4, including the train's T/O are confirmed dead and a report of another possible 3.

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Is D.C. cursed or something? This is not the first time this happened in a 5 year period. All seem to be like head-on collisions not to mention the first train already derailed.


D.C.'s Track Record

January 13, 1982-Derailment

January 6, 1996-Head-on Collision

November 3, 2004-Head-on Collision with a train wrong railing.

January 7, 2007-Derailment


June 22, 2009-Head-on Collision


That is Sad! Metrorail needs to fix there system. It just not Metrorail, MARC, VRE and Amtrak have lengthy track record of collision in the D.C. area. Remember the GG1 that crashed through the floor of D.C. Union Station?

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6 people confirmed dead. Countless injured.


Watching larry king cover the incident, sounds pretty traumatic for those who survived.




- A

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Although way early for a final determination of cause, WAMTA and NTSB Experts Both Suspect Failure Of Signal System & Operator Error" as the early guess of both WMATA and NTSB officals now studying cause of this tragic accident. And death toll as of 7am this morning (6/23/09)is now '9'. An updated Washington Post story..



Death Toll on Metro crash now at 9. THE Early PROBE: Experts Suspect Failure Of Signal System, Operator Error

By Lyndsey Layton, Lena H. Sun and Maria Glod

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, June 23, 2009; 6:48 AM


*Warning this is a long article.*


One Metro train slammed into the back of another on the Red Line at the height of the evening rush yesterday, killing at least nine and injuring 70 others in the deadliest accident in Metrorail's 33-year-history.


Metro officials said three bodies were pulled from the wreckage overnight, in addition to six other people who were confirmed dead Monday evening. Scores of victims were taken to area hospitals, some in critical coditon.


The impact of the crash was so powerful that the trailing train was left atop the first train. Witnesses told stories of rescues and people helping others amid the chaos. Firefighters had to use heavy rescue equipment to cut open the cars to reach people trapped inside.


The investigation will continue today, shutting down some parts of the Red Line and MARC commuter rail's Brunswick line. Officials advised the public to brace for a difficult commute. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and other officials will hold a news briefing at 8 a.m.


One of the dead was Jeanice McMillan, 42, of Springfield, the operator of the train that rear-ended another stopped in front of it just outside the Fort Totten station in Northeast Washington, Metro officials said.


No one answered the phone last night at McMillan's home.


Metro and rescue officials gave no details about the operator or the other fatalities. The crash occurred just after 5 p.m., and traffic on the train lines and highways was severely affected.


Metro, like all transit agencies, is supposed to have numerous safety systems in place to prevent crashes, and it was not clear what caused yesterday's accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and has assigned a railroad investigator and two specialists from its office of transportation disaster assistance. The Metro board is scheduled to hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. today.



Although the investigation is just beginning, certain systems are designed to prevent an accident like yesterday's. During morning and afternoon rush hours, all trains except longer eight-car trains typically operate in automatic mode, meaning their movements are controlled by computerized systems and the central Operations Control Center. Both trains in yesterday's crash were six-car trains. But officials would not say whether the trains were in automatic mode or being operated manually.


Investigators will probably focus on a possible failure of Metro's computerized signal system, which is designed to prevent trains from coming close enough to collide, as well as operator error, according to former Metro officials. A Metro source said McMillan was relatively inexperienced, ranking 18th from the bottom on the seniority list of 523 train operators. She had been a Metro employee since January 2007, officials said. Train operators must first operate a bus for a year before they can apply to operate the train. They then receive about 12 weeks of training.


The computerized system should work whether trains are being operated manually or by computer.


But even if the signal system failed to stop the train, the operator should have intervened and applied emergency brakes, safety experts familiar with Metro's operations say. The position of the second train after the crash -- the fact that its first car came to rest atop the other train -- indicates that the second train was traveling at high speed. In the section of track where the accident occurred, the maximum speed is supposed to be 58 mph. Metro officials would not say how fast the trains were going because of the ongoing NTSB investigation.


This incident has already attracted both national and international media attention with dozens more reporters and

news crews arriving to the crash site from out of town this morning.


Experts familiar with Metro's operations focused last night on a failure of the signal system and operator error as likely causes of yesterday's fatal Red Line crash.

Metro was designed with a fail-safe computerized signal system that is supposed to prevent trains from colliding. The agency's trains are run by onboard computers that control speed and braking. Another electronic system detects the position of trains to maintain a safe distance between them. If they get too close, the computers automatically apply the brakes, stopping the trains.


These systems were supposed to make yesterday's crash impossible. But four years ago, in an episode eerily similar to yesterday's, the signal system briefly failed in the tunnel between Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn, forcing two quick-thinking operators to stop their trains manually to avoid a crash.


In the June 2005 incident, the operator of one train noticed that he was getting too close to the train ahead. The signal system was telling him the track was clear, but he hit the brakes. The operator of a third train on the line hit the emergency brakes on time, too.


Metro officials were stunned by the events, which they said at the time had not happened before, and launched an investigation. It was unclear last night whether they ever found a cause.


In yesterday's crash, it appeared that the operator of the train that crashed did not apply the emergency brakes, also known as the "mushroom." Experts said the train appeared to be traveling fast before impact because the force pushed the first car of the train on top of the train ahead. Witnesses on the train that crashed also reported that the train did not brake before impact.


There was no reason to think that the operator did not spot the train ahead of her yesterday. The weather was clear, and the trains were not in a tunnel.


"It doesn't look like she hit the brakes," said a train safety expert, who asked not to be identified because the crash is under investigation. "That's why you have an operator in the cab. She should have been able to take action. That's what they're there for."



Other possible factors in the crash include a medical emergency that incapacitated the operator or a catastrophic failure of the braking system.


The trains in yesterday's crash were supposed to be in automatic operation, which means the operators would have been relying on the computerized system to run the trains. The only function required of a train operator during automatic operation is to close the doors after a station stop. Some safety experts said operators can "zone out" during computerized operation because they don't have to pay as close attention as when they manually run trains.


During the past decade, Metro has struggled with troublesome communications relays. The agency tore out all 20,000 trackside relays in 1999 after discovering that a small portion designed to last 70 years were failing after 25. They sent erroneous instructions to trains on several occasions. One train was told to travel 45 mph on a stretch of track with a 15-mph speed limit; another was directed to travel at zero mph when it should have been ordered to move at 15 mph.


The manufacturer, Alstom Signaling, agreed to replace the relays. The company could not be reached for comment last night.


In May 2000, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a safety warning to all railroads and transit systems, saying relays manufactured between 1960 and 1985 by General Railway Signal had a tendency to stick or fail.


Alstom, which bought General Railway Signal in 1998, estimated that 2 million of the relays in question are used by railroads around the world. Federal officials said the sticking of the relays has caused the railroad administration serious concern. They said railroads using the Alstom relays should inspect and test them, but they stopped short of requiring immediate repair or replacement.


c)2009 Washington Post. Inc.



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The way the accident looked kinda reminds me of the NYC subway accident a while back. I think it happened on a bridge. I sure hope every1 who survived is gonna be ok.


You're talking about the Williamsburg Bridge crash in 1995 with the (J) and (M) trains. That was bad and this is real bad too. My prayers go out to the families of the victims.

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You're talking about the Williamsburg Bridge crash in 1995 with the and trains. That was bad and this is real bad too.

As bad and horriffic as the Willie B accident was, this is far,far worse. The cab ends of the (J)(M) R 40's were crushed in a similar collision but the trains remained upright after the derailment.The motorman of the (M) was the only casualty. The anticlimbers really worked here considering the speed of the (M) was almost the same as in this collision. Probably the worse accident to compare this to was the 14th St wreck. The R62's were twisted like pretzels resulting in many passengers being killed.

After seeing the pictures you can see that the head end car of the 2nd train sheared off the chassis and landed on top of the last car of the 1st train. I can't imagine the forces involved to make this happen but the weight of the following cars of the 2nd train pusshing foward to a dead stop defiantly played a major role. The inertia involved must have been enormous and this was at 20mph!!!! I hope this will be resolved quickly without the usual foot dragging and finger pointing and immediate action taken to prevent a reoccurrance in the future. This is the 3rd major accident in the WMATA's short history,. :eek:

(NJT) :nec: :septa:

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Anticlimbers are good, but will not prevent body shell from coming off the frame.


These old trains need to be sent to colorado & used for FRA target practice.


- A

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