URGENT Recommendation to WMATA to Return Door Operation to Automatic/Manual Mode

Recommendation 17.11 (Supersedes R-17.8 and R-17.8.1)

January 27, 2017

In response to the event on January 24, 2017 aboard WMATA Yellow Line Train 312, Rail Transit OPS is issuing an URGENT Recommendation to WMATA on the following:

Immediately return all revenue trains’ door operation selector controls to the Auto/Manual setting vs. the current Manual/Manual setting.

During Rail Transit OPS’ review of the January 24, 2017 event, we became aware that under the current door selector mode of Manual/Manual–which has been in place since Monday, April 14, 2008–there is no automatic protection to prevent door operations outside of platform limits. The initial reason given by WMATA for disabling automatic door operations was due to electromagnetic interference from power upgrades that caused unintended door operations.

Under the Auto/Manual setting, the train’s Automatic Train Control (ATC) system requires a signal to be sent from each end of a platform before issuing a command to open the doors while operating under Automatic Train Operation (ATO). Use of ATO on revenue trains has been suspended since the June 22, 2009 collision outside Ft. Totten.

Under manual train operations and the Auto/Manual door setting, train operators are required to press a button to confirm to the ATC software that the train is berthed before the doors will open. In addition, if there is no signal from the ends of the platform, the doors will not operate. Returning the selector switch to Auto/Manual adds an additional two layers of protection to prevent door operations outside of station platforms.


Rail Transit OPS Group is an independent, publicly-funded group that monitors rail transit operations, performance, and safety procedures to proactively address potential issues. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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