Rail Transit OPS Statement on WMATA Red Signal Violation on January 31, 2017 

At about 10:51 AM EST on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) was alerted that a four car non-revenue train was indicated to have passed a red signal protecting the double crossover interlocking located north of the Braddock Road station.

The train was traveling north, or inbound, when the incident occurred. The train passed the signal and came to stop approximately two hundred and fifty feet beyond the signal. The train and crossover was visually inspected and the train and operator were removed from service for post-incident investigation by Metro.

Metro is conducting an investigation into the incident. The investigation will likely look at human factors, track and rail car performance, as well as the signaling system, in order to determine the probable cause of the red signal violation.

Rail Transit OPS Group did identify several concerns during the event:

  • The incident train reported loss of speed commands[1] several times leading up to the incident, requesting permission to move forward and apparently was not immediately acknowledged by ROCC
  • There were several events occurring at the same time in the vicinity of the event including:
    1. A track crew had identified several defective fasteners outside of National Airport and was requesting a speed restriction be implemented
    2. An inbound Yellow Line Train at King Street was reporting a brake problem
    3. An inbound Blue Line Train in approach to King Street was reporting a loss of speed commands
  • There was excessive radio traffic during the event, indicating some personnel were not actively monitoring transmissions from the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC)

[1] All trains must have speed commands when moving, which tell the train how fast they can travel. If a train has no speed commands, it is required to report that to ROCC, who may then give the train permission to move.


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.