WASHINGTON – In light of the Aug. 6 rail derailment on the Blue and Orange Lines near the Smithsonian Metro Station, causing a disruption in service on the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has released an incident report of exactly what happened. The investigation by the Tri-State Oversight […]
WASHINGTON – In light of the Aug. 6 rail derailment on the Blue and Orange Lines near the Smithsonian Metro Station, causing a disruption in service on the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has released an incident report of exactly what happened.
The investigation by the Tri-State Oversight Committee into the derailment is still ongoing, WMATA Safety Committee Chairman Michael Goldman said, but the incident “should never have happened.”
“The operations report reveals that the physical root cause of the derailment was the failure of fasteners to properly hold the rails securely,” Goldman said. “This was compounded by a lack of systematic, immediate review of data generated during the inspection vehicle runs.”
A metro employee operating the track geometry vehicle identified the rail defect on July 9and labeled it “level black.” A level black defect needs to be taken care of “immediately,” the report said, because the track is at risk of failure if it continues to operate.
The employee operating the track geometry vehicle (TGV) deleted the information about the defect from the exception report, the incident report said, and submitted the report to maintenance crews for scheduling immediate repairs to the rail system.
“We have learned that the derailment was caused by a combination of human error and flawed Metro processes,” Goldman said. “While the employee believed he was deleting a routinely detected anomaly and not an actual rail defect, that such a serious error went undetected with no checks and balances reveals gaps in Metro’s safety policies and procedures.”
This also indicates a failure of WMATA’s quality check process. WMATA’s tracks are maintained to a “specific engineering standards and are subject to multiple layers of inspection,” the report said. That inspection includes visual inspections from track walkers, measurements from the TGV, and an operator’s report.
WMATA management has taken action in three key areas to improve the safety of the rail system. They are immediate safety actions to improve track safety, overhaul quality processes to prevent recurrence, and accept responsibility for the safety failures that preceded the incident.
WMATA management has accepted responsibility for the safety failures preceding the derailment, the report said. They have also taken action to improve track safety and overhaul their quality processes to prevent the recurrence of this incident.
Malcolm Augustine, a WMATA board member and a Prince George’s County representative, said safety has to be the priority for WMATA as they continue to move forward in the future. Not only in Prince George’s County, but everywhere else.
Prince George’s County has development initiatives moving forward with WMATA, such as the purchase and development of land around the College Park Metro station. But still, he said, before any development can really take place, safety has to be addressed and a “safety culture” must be built.
“We’ve got to ensure the safety of the riders and the WMATA employees, first and foremost. As a board member, that is a very important responsibility to be sure that staff is being held accountable to that,” Augustine said.
With the search for a new general manager, he said, safety will be the top priority and will be the issue the new general manager must come in and immediately deal with.
WMATA must continue to be as transparent as possible, Augustine said, and must continue sharing the efforts staff and the board are making to ensure safety. When there are issues and problems, WMATA must do everything in its power to mitigate those and correct them.
“Right now, from a board perspective, we’re looking at how to we put together the best safety culture and how do we nurture that,” Augustine said. “We need to make sure that the safety culture is being shared with staff and then we need to receive feedback from the staff that that is actually occurring. That that culture has taken hold.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III said even though they have experienced many problems recently, including the derailment, the Metro is still a safe route of travel. However, they still have work to do.
“I want people to know that Metro is safe. It’s one of the safest systems in the country and in the world,” Baker said. “But we do have problems. And we need to make sure the leadership addresses that.”
Augustine will help ensure that, Baker said, for Prince George’s County moving forward. The first charge he has from the county is ensuring WMATA has a general manager who can run the system safely.
“We’re going to hold them accountable,” Baker said. “We need to be working in concert to address those issues. We need to do everything we can to get the confidence of Metro riders back.”
r completion this month.
The board also approved a contract change with RichMoe Enterprises, LLC, who is heading the renovation of the barbering and cosmetology classroom at Bladensburg. The original contract was for $521,219. The contract, however, was delayed due to a bid protest, which is a challenge to the award of a contract to a company.
The contract amount was changed twice because “the costs of escalation due to the extended time between initial bid and final contract.” The two combined changed orders total $35,655, which brought the total contract to $556,874.
All change orders were unanimously passed. The school system full CIP for fiscal years 2017 through 2022 will be under second reader at the next board meeting.