WMATA Red Line Self Evacuation at Farragut North on 9/13/16 Preliminary Summary

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at about 10:03PM EDT, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was conducting track work outside the Farragut North station on the outbound A2 track on the Red Line. The A1 track is from Shady Grove to Metro Center, and A2 from Metro Center in the direction of Shady Grove.

Trains en route to Shady Grove  were instructed to be routed from track 2 via track 3 (the Farragut North pocket track) to track 1, the outbound track. At about 10:03 PM a switch that governed movement from track 3 to track 1 (Switch 7) went out of correspondence which resulted in the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) being unable to set a valid route for trains to exit Track 3.

At about 10:05 Red Line Train 101 was in the pocket track and was stopped at signal A02-34, which was red. The ROCC made multiple attempts to contact the operator of Train 101 with negative results. During these attempts, a second off duty train operator responded to the ROCC and was instructed to contact the operator as well as to head towards the Glenmont end of the train to reverse the train back to Farragut North.

Eventually the train operator responded and was instructed to reverse ends in order to take the train back to the Farragut North platform in order to proceed to Shady Grove via the inbound Track 1 through the work area. Again the ROCC attempted to contact the operator of Train 101 to verify that the train had been reversed, again met with negative results, at which time the ROCC instructed the following train, Train 113, which was berthed on the platform at Farragut North, to attempt to directly contact either operator aboard Train 101, with negative results.

At approximately 10:18PM a utility supervisor (Unit ⬛️⬛️)  was instructed to enter the roadway and walk to Train 101 and board the train. Unit ⬛️⬛️  boarded Train 101 at about 10:20PM and was instructed to move the train back to Farragut North platform and verify the location and condition of both train operators.

At 10:28 PM as Train 101 was preparing to move, an Automatic Train Control crew (ATC ⬛️⬛️⬛️⬛️ ) reported that a passenger was wayside on the track bed at location A2 48+50 and requested permission to escort the passenger to Farragut North platform. Train 101 was immediately told to stop any movement. About a minute later another crew ( Track ⬛️⬛️⬛️  ) notified the ROCC that a second passenger was wayside about 150′ away at A2 50+00. This passenger was also escorted back to the platform at Farragut North.

At about 10:38 PM Train 101 reached the platform at Farragut North and was offloaded while the operator reversed ends at which time the train was reloaded to go back to Shady Grove.

Rail Transit OPS has identified the probable cause of this incident to be a breakdown in communications and procedural adherence.

Events that occurred that warrant addressing:

Refresher training to all operating personnel on procedures on contacting ROCC in the event of radio outages.

Improved procedures on communications with passengers during extended delays including expected actions to be taken

Even though both passengers that self evacuated were almost immediately identified by WMATA personnel, traction power to the third rails in the vicinity was never de-energized and posed a hazard had there been any additional passengers on the right of way

The train operator of Train 101 should have been relieved at Farragut North to begin the investigation as to the reason of communication loss

This incident is still under review and any new information will be posted.