At about 11:31AM EDT on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, an eight car Greenbelt bound train (Train 508) approached, and passed track personnel on elevated track 2,800 feet (F1 512.00) after departing Branch Av station at a speed in excess of the current required 10 MPH. Train 508 came to a stop after approximately 7 cars had past the track personnel. There were no injuries during this incident.
The probable cause for this incident appears to be a failure in communications between the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC), Advance Mobile Flagger, and the Terminal Supervisor at Branch Av.
In this incident the track personnel were communicating with the ROCC and had requested a train pickup at the incident location, the first train following the request, Train 507 did stop, however the track personnel declined that pickup and requested that the following train pick them up.
At the time of the request the operator of Train 508 was monitoring the Branch Av terminal operations channel, and was unaware of the transmissions made by the ROCC. Based on available data, there was no transmission to the operator of Train 508 that a) there were track personnel ahead b) to stop and pick up the personnel. The AMF that was previously stationed at Branch Av to provide notification had boarded Train 508 to move to Suitland and apparently failed to notify the operator that there were personnel ahead to be picked up. As Train 508 approached the track personnel, the Roadway Worker In Charge (RWIC) instructed for the operator to slow and stop via hand signal. Train 508 came to a stop after the first seven cars passed the track personnel.
Rail Transit OPS recommends the following solutions to mitigate a recurrence in the future:
- URGENT – Modify terminal supervisor departure briefings to train operators to include ALL track personnel along the route prior to departure
- Place mainline tracks between the final two stations under terminal control.
- Require ALL trains to check in to terminal supervisors prior to departing the station before the terminal.
- Require any track personnel to dual check in with the terminal supervisor and ROCC prior to entering the mainline tracks between the final two stations.
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