On Friday April 8, 2016 at about 4:45 PM EDT, WMATA Red Line Train 130 (T-130), an eight-car train traveling toward Glenmont, serviced the Dupont Circle station. Upon completion, the train operator was unable to receive confirmation that all train doors were closed. The operator attempted to perform door operations twice more before contacting the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC), who instructed him to attempt to close the doors one more time while simultaneously requesting Rail Car Maintenance to meet the train at Gallery Place. In addition, the ROCC instructed the five trains following behind T-130 to hold at stations.

T-130 contacted the ROCC with the no all doors closed indication condition continuing, at which time the ROCC instructed T-130 to offload at Dupont Circle at around 4:46 PM. During the offload process there was a unidentifiable individual, possibly another passenger, who told a group of passengers on the 6th car of the train to stay aboard. Approximately 20-30 passengers aboard this car were unable to exit at Dupont Circle.

Typical WMATA policy requires that after a train offloads on the mainline that the train operator request permission from the ROCC to physically walk the entire length of the train to ensure that it is clear of passengers, per Metrorail Safety Rules and Procedures Handbook (MSRPH) Rule 45.5.1.1.2, although this can be denied under MSRPH Rule 45.5.1.1.4. MSRPH 45.5.1.1.4 appears to have been implemented along with MSRPH 45.5.1.2, which allows the ROCC to bypass a train inspection and have another authorized individual (supervisor, maintenance, transit officer) key any remaining passengers off at a station further down. Preliminary reports indicate that as T-130 approached and passed through the next station, Farragut North, the train operator announced that passengers still aboard would be let out at Gallery Place, where initially Rail Car Maintenance then a utility supervisor would board the train to inspect the doors.

As the train entered the Metro Center station, a passenger contacted the train operator via the emergency intercom as shown in video posted online. The train operator initially reset the intercom, then replied back to the passenger in an inappropriate tone that clearly violated MSRPH Rule 2.2. Upon arriving at Gallery Place, a majority of passengers in car 6 of the consist can be seen preparing to exit. T-130 stopped on the platform for approximately 15 seconds and then proceeded on with no announcement from the operator, which caused confusion among the passengers. Prior to this action there was very little if any concern among the passengers. As T-130 approached the following station, Judicary Sq., a utility supervisor entered the sixth car via the end bulkhead doors and let or “keyed off” the passengers via the number nine door.

After being taken out of service, T-130 was boarded by Rail Car Maintenance at Union Station; it re-entered revenue service at Takoma station at about 5:08 PM with the last (eighth) car being isolated with a slow closing door.

Our findings indicate the offload at Dupont Circle was conducted in accordance with Metro operating procedures. However, the train operator violated MSRPH Rule 2.2, which requires all employees to be courteous and orderly when dealing with the public, both when responding to the first passenger via the intercom and again by failing to update passengers at Gallery Place that they would be let off at Judicary Sq.

A secondary finding was also uncovered during this review. An abnormally high number of train operators routinely violate MSRPH Rule 45.5.1.1.1 which requires train operators to announce the reason why a train is being offloaded as well as instructions for how to board trains to complete their trip.

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Rail Transit OPS Group is an independent joint venture focused on monitoring and analyzing operations, performance, and safety of passenger rail transit systems across the country.

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