Rail Transit OPS Grosvenor Turnback Elimination Capability Report

For immediate release to the public. Submitted to the WMATA Board July 25th, 2018.

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Rail Transit OPS Statement on WMATA 7000-Series Announcement Changes

Early in the week of July 8, 2018, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) began instructing some 7000-series train operators to make a new manual announcement to riders: “This is a 7000-series train.” This additional announcement comes in response to three separate incidents in which visually impaired individuals fell into gaps between 7000-series train cars due to unique aspects of its design.

Rail Transit OPS disagrees with WMATA’s implementation of this new procedure. The announcement does not identify the difference between a door and an inter-car gap any more than the current automated announcement sequence does, and therefore does not increase safety or mitigate risk. The announcement also appears to assume that all riders, both commuters and tourists alike, already know the features and characteristics of a 7000-series railcar, specifically that the gap between these cars can pose a hazard.

As an interim solution, we recommend this manual announcement be replaced with “Please use caution when boarding or exiting this train” until this same announcement can be added to the existing automatic announcement sequence of all 7000-series railcars. Similar automated announcements have been added in the past to these cars to warn riders of uneven platform surfaces at both the Braddock Road and Rhode Island Avenue stations, so this is technically feasible relatively quickly.

As a secondary recommendation, Rail Transit OPS also suggests the automated announcements of 7000-series railcars be modified to announce which side train doors will open on in approach to each station to match the manual announcements already made by operators of legacy (2K/3K/6K-series) trains. This would deliver a more consistent rider experience and, more importantly, further assist some of those same customers who are also currently at risk of falling between inter-car gaps.

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Recommendation to WMATA Regarding Potential Third Rail Condition

January 30, 2018

On January 25th and January 29th, two Vienna bound WMATA Orange Line trains experienced a brakes in emergency (BIE) condition while approaching the Stadium-Armory station, requiring both trains to be recovered by another. In light of this, Rail Transit OPS Group recommends the following:

  • Perform an immediate detailed inspection of the contact (third) rail on the inbound track over a distance of 3,000 feet from Chain Marker D2 245 to D2 275.
  • Until the results of the inspection are complete, implement absolute block procedures from signal D98/32 to Stadium-Armory platform to restrict trains to one at a time in the area of concern.
  • Perform a detailed inspection of rail cars 3060-3061; these cars were in both trains involved.

Events that preceded this recommendation:

On Thursday, January 25, 2018 at about 5:28 p.m., Orange Line Train 919 consisting of six 3000 series cars enroute to Vienna lost brake pipe pressure while in approach to Stadium-Armory station, came to a stop, entered a condition known as Brakes in Emergency in the approximate area of Chain Marker D2 250+00, and had to be recovered by another train.

On Monday, January 29, 2018 at 6:59 a.m., Orange Line to Vienna Train 919, also consisting of six 3000 series cars, experienced an identical malfunction in the same track circuit.

During our review of train movements through the area, eight car trains that stopped in the circuit were unaffected, as were trains that continued moving.

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

Recommended Alternate Service Plan for WMATA Red Line following 1/15/18 Derailment

Due to the derailment of WMATA Red Line Train 106 on the morning of Monday, January 15, 2018, and to accommodate incident investigation and any repair work, Rail Transit OPS Group is recommending to WMATA the following alternate service plan for Red Line service for as long as necessary:

  • Operate Red Line trains at 12 minute headways in two segments: from Shady Grove to Farragut North, and from Glenmont to Union Station
  • Operate a single eight-car “shuttle train” from Union Station to Farragut North via the Shady Grove track (opposite the incident track) with an operator on both ends of the train to minimize turnaround time at Union Station and Farragut North
  • Recommend that passengers on the Glenmont segment that need to access the Blue, Orange, Silver, Yellow, or Green lines transfer at Fort Totten
  • Add several “tripper” Yellow Line trains to originate from Greenbelt during the peak of morning rush hour; similarly, have “tripper” trains go back to Greenbelt during the peak of evening rush hour

We chose Union Station and Farragut North as terminals for the shuttle train in part due to those stations’ center platforms (as opposed to side platforms); riders transferring from Red Line trains originating from Shady Grove or Glenmont to the shuttle train at Farragut North or Union Station, respectively, could conveniently walk straight across the center platform to the shuttle train to continue their trip, as opposed to having to take elevators or escalators to another platform at the same station.

While this service plan reduces the frequency of Red Line trains and may require some riders to transfer twice to access other lines instead of just once, it would eliminate the need for single tracking and thus help minimize delays, allowing WMATA to schedule more consistent service for its customers.

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

2018-0003 Recommendation to modify announcements on 7000 series railcars

December 6, 2017

From: Rail Transit OPS Group

RE: WMATA 7000 series railcar announcements

Status: Open-No Action Taken (12/6/17)

Recommend that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) immediately require train operators, operating 7000 series rail cars manually announce station arrivals in order for passengers to be aware of the side of the train in which the doors will open, until such time as a software upgrade will permit the automatic announcement of door operations.

Currently the automatic station arrival announcement is as follows: “This is [Station]”

This announcement does not inform unfamiliar passengers, and visually impaired passengers as to which side of the train the doors will be operating.

The recommended announcement is: “Arriving at [Station], Doors will open on the [Side], Transfer to MARC, VRE, Amtrak etc.”

Along with the addition of the door location to the announcement, Rail Transit OPS Group is additionally recommending that the dwell announcement (announcement that plays upon door opening) be modified to the following:

Step Back Doors Opening – This is an [Color] Line Train to [Destination], the next station is [Station]; Please move to the center of the car and stand clear of the doors”

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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.