Incident Location: WMATA Rosslyn Station
Incident Date: April 28, 2016
Active Incident Timeframe: 07:31AM – 07:40AM EDT
Incident Category: Train Misrouting
At approximately 7:33 AM EDT, on Thursday, April 28, 2016 WMATA Blue Line Train 401 departing the Rosslyn station en route to Franconia-Springfield took the incorrect junction heading toward stations serviced by the Orange/Silver Lines. The train operator stopped the train as soon as it began to take the incorrect route and contacted the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC).
Due to a train arriving directly behind Train 401 (meaning it was unable to return to Rosslyn), the train was offloaded and removed from service at Court House and moved to West Falls Church Rail Yard for inspection. It is unclear why the train picked up the incorrect routing and was allowed to proceed towards Vienna instead of the expected Franconia-Springfield station. A preliminary contributing factor is operator loss of situational awareness.
At no time were any passengers in danger due to the incident since the Automatic Train Protection feature was still fully functional. Train 401 was being operated in manual mode at the time.
As WMATA trains approach junctions there are two to three primary methods to verify that the correct route is selected. In the Rosslyn situation the primary method is the interlocking (switch) signal, which displays different indications based on the route programmed. The second would be the overhead sign that flashes to notify which train is approaching. The third method is the train operator scanning the tracks ahead to verify that switches are correctly set prior to crossing them.