Roadway Worker Protection Violation on October 4, 2018

At 11:45AM EDT Glenmont bound Train 155-3204 approached track department personnel between White Flint & Grosvenor stations on Track 1, the inbound track without sounding its horn periodically and at normal operating speeds instead of the required reduced speed. Train 155 did slow and pass the personnel at approximately 10-15MPH after visually acquiring the track personnel.

AMF (Advance Mobile Flagger) was present at White Flint, however at the time Train 155 serviced the platform, the AMF was fully engaged in a conversation with a Rail Pro contractor and failed to notify the operator of Train 155 of the presence of track personnel.

Also Train 155 failed to sound its mainline horn upon sighting the AMF at White Flint.

At 11:55AM Train 155 followed correct procedures departing Bethesda following contact with the AMF at Bethesda.

About Us: Rail Transit OPS Group provides independent evaluations of rail transit operations, performance, and safety processes as part of its dual mission: monitor and evaluate rail transit operators’ adherence to these processes, and provide additional information during service disruptions.

Rail Transit OPS Group business operations are solely funded by individual contributions from the public. To make a contribution visit our Support Page You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @RailTransitOPS.

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Event Summary on September 6, 2018 WMATA Roadway Worker Procedure Violation

On Thursday, September 6, 2018 at about 11:02 AM EDT, Shady Grove-bound Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Train 102 reported to the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) the presence of personnel on the tracks between the Grosvenor and White Flint stations on the outbound track (Track A2) without the required presence of an Advanced Mobile Flagger (AMF) at the departure end of Grosvenor. The track inspection was suspended by the ROCC and the personnel were picked up and transported back to the White Flint platform by Train 102.

At 10:46 AM, a track inspection team of two including one contractor requested permission to walk the tracks from White Flint to Grosvenor via the outbound track known as Track 2. During the request, the Roadway Worker In Charge (RWIC) said that the AMF was in place at Grosvenor. (AMF duties include notifying train operators that personnel are on the tracks ahead and to instruct them to sound their horn and reduce their train’s speed until visually acquiring the personnel, at which time they are to be governed by the Roadway Worker In Charge, or RWIC.) Following the confirmation between the RWIC and the ROCC, permission was granted for the track walk to commence at 10:47 AM.

At 11:01 AM, Train 102 departed Grosvenor en route to White Flint, at which time the operator of Train 102 reported that there were track personnel on the tracks ahead, and that there was no AMF in place at Grosvenor to provide a warning. Train 102 was instructed to pick up the track crew and transport them back to White Flint where the RWIC was instructed to contact the ROCC. The track inspection was then cancelled as of 11:10 AM.

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Rail Transit OPS Group provides independent evaluations of rail transit operations, performance, and safety processes as part of its dual mission: monitor and evaluate rail transit operators’ adherence to these processes, and provide additional information during service disruptions.

Rail Transit OPS Group business operations are solely funded by individual contributions from the public. To make a contribution visit our Support Page You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @RailTransitOPS.

Event Summary of WMATA Roadway Worker Incident on August 25, 2018

On Saturday, August 25, 2018 at about 1:28 PM EDT, a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Power Department (POWR) employee miscommunicated their location while accessing the traction power tiebreaker station on the Red Line that’s approximately 1,600 feet south of Rockville station. As a result, Train 110 (T-110), operating on the same track the employees were traveling on, came within approximately 500 feet of personnel. There were no injuries as the operator of T-110 quickly and efficiently stopped their train.

At 1:15 PM, a WMATA POWR employee requested track access to get to a power substation from an access gate in a parking lot using Foul Time, a protocol in which all train traffic on the requested track between two specified signals should stop. The POWR employee requested Foul Time for Track 2, which at this location is the outbound track, adjacent and tangent to the CSX right of way; the private parking lot is adjacent to Track 1 (see Figure 1). Foul Time was granted by the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) at 1:17 PM for Track 2; this request was lifted at 1:20 PM.

Figure 1: Google Maps overhead satellite image of incident area. Red pin indicates approximate location of POWR employees.

At 1:22 PM, the POWR employee requested Foul Time again for Track 2, and at 1:27 PM they were granted Foul Time by the ROCC, who requested Train 114 (T-114), which was in approach to Twinbrook on Track 2, to hold. The ROCC controller stated that T-114 would be facing a red signal, which the operator of T-114 acknowledged.

At 1:28:21 PM, while the employee was in the process of reading back to the ROCC the Foul Time clearance, a train horn was sounded, after which time the employee announced to the ROCC that there was a train coming.

At 1:28:31 PM, the operator of T-110, which had just departed Rockville and was traveling on Track 1, contacted the ROCC that there was personnel on the same track as their train, and that their train was currently stopped. The ROCC immediately asked the POWR employee which track the employee was on, to which the employee responded twice they were on Track 2. The operator of T-110 reported that the employees were on the same track as their train. At this time the POWR employee realized and acknowledged their mistake, and that they were on Track 1, not Track 2, and had been confused by the markers on the tracks.

Figure 2: Image from MetroHero, with the arrow indicating the approximate location of track personnel at the time T-110 stopped.

By 1:31 PM, the POWR employees were clear from the tracks and T-110 resumed normal movement.

PROBABLE CAUSE 

Rail Transit OPS Group believes the probable cause for this incident is a lack of familiarization of the right of way by both POWR personnel and ROCC controllers; had the ROCC controller been familiar with the territory they were in charge of, the controller would’ve realized that Track 2 was next to CSX tracks and that there was no reason for the POWR employees to cross.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Rail Transit OPS Group recommends that WMATA makes the following changes to prevent recurrence:

  1. Increase ROCC controllers’ requirements to physically know the territory they are in charge of.
  2. Install track diagrams at each access gate to aid WMATA personnel as well as first responders in determining the track’s orientation prior to entering the track bed.
  3. Expand Foul Time restrictions to cover all tracks in the requested area, not just the affected track.

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Rail Transit OPS Group provides independent evaluations of rail transit operations, performance, and safety processes as part of its dual mission: monitor and evaluate rail transit operators’ adherence to these processes, and provide additional information during service disruptions.

Rail Transit OPS Group business operations are solely funded by individual contributions from the public. To make a contribution visit our Support Page You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @RailTransitOPS.

Combined Event Summary of Incorrect Routing of Two WMATA Trains at Rosslyn Station

This is a combined preliminary summary describing the events surrounding the incorrect routing of two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains at the Rosslyn station on August 27th and August 28th.

View of Rosslyn station looking outbound at the switch involved. Note there are two signals guarding the switch (displaying a white lunar aspect) Photo by Rail Transit OPS member Stephen Repetski

Event 1:

On Monday, August 27, 2018 at about 6:42 AM EDT WMATA Train 612 with a destination of Wiehle-Reston East serviced the Rosslyn station. Upon departure from the station Train 612 was supposed to take the switch located outbound of the station in the direction of Court House station. However, Train 612 continued straight following the Blue Line Route towards Arlington Cemetery. After passing the switch, the operator of Train 612 contacted the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) to inform the ROCC of the incorrect routing and was instructed to continue to Arlington Cemetery.

Rail Transit OPS Group believes the probable cause of the incident was the loss of situational awareness by the operator of Train 612 for not properly scanning the switch prior to passing the switch.

Contributing factors include the likely failure of the operator to enter the correct destination code on the train console. Based on preliminary information available from Metro Hero (via the original WMATA Application Programming Interface [API]), the train was transmitting a code relating to the Glenmont Rail Yard. Also contributing was the failure of the ROCC to identify and address the the incorrect destination code prior to the train reaching the Rosslyn station.

Event 2:

On Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at about 11:06 AM EDT WMATA Train 409 with a destination of Franconia-Springfield departed the Rosslyn station with its next planned station being Arlington Cemetery. Train 409 took an incorrect routing at the switch and traveled towards Court House station on the Orange and Silver Lines. The operator of Train 409 contacted the ROCC after having taken the incorrect routing. The ROCC instructed the operator of Train 409 to continue to Court House and offload the train and allow the passengers to travel back to Rosslyn to resume their trips.

Rail Transit OPS Group believes the probable cause to be loss of situational awareness by both the train operator of Train 409 for not properly scanning the position of the switch prior to passing it as well as the ROCC controller for failing to verify the correct routing at Rosslyn. This would be a necessary action as the automatic routing controls governing the C05-06 signal were disabled at the time.

Contributing to the incident was a heavy radio workload for the controllers in the ROCC at the time: transmissions for setting routing for trains at Rosslyn, managing track inspections, and communicating with track department personnel simultaneously. During the incident with Train 409, ROCC controllers were making multiple transmissions to multiple individuals, which could contribute to a loss of situational awareness.

In regard to both of the above incidents, there were no injuries, no damage to tracks or equipment, and at no time was the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) subsystem of Automatic Train Control (ATC) compromised, meaning there was no risk of a collision; ATP is programmed to prevent collisions with other trains regardless of the destination or direction of trains by detecting their presence through the rail system via track circuits.

With regards to Automatic Train Operation (ATO), the Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) subsystem would have verified that the route selected matches the destination entered on the train console and transmitted from the train, thus the August 27th incident should not have occurred if ATO were in use. However, the August 28th incident would likely have still occurred as the automatic routing system was disabled at Rosslyn, leaving the setting of the switches up to the ROCC controllers.

RECOMMENDATION:

Review operating training procedures to ensure train operators properly scan switch points for proper alignment.

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Rail Transit OPS Group provides independent evaluations of rail transit operations, performance, and safety processes as part of its dual mission: monitor and evaluate rail transit operators’ adherence to these processes, and provide additional information during service disruptions.

Rail Transit OPS’ business operations are funded by individual contributions from the public. To support our operations visit us at railtransitops.org/support. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @RailTransitOPS.

Preliminary Report: 8/12/18 – Unscheduled Train Departure from Vienna

On Sunday, August 12, 2018, there was an unscheduled Orange Line train departure from Vienna en route to Foggy Bottom at 2:21PM EST. The following is a summary of events related to that departure.

At 1:47PM, Vienna terminal operations instructed a supervisor to bring a gap train stored in the tail tracks at Vienna to the track 2 platform and keep the doors closed. The supervisor on board was instructed to enter a train ID of 770, which historically identifies a train as having no passengers to the controllers in the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC).

Train 770 (T-770) opened its doors at 2:06PM, and departed Vienna at 2:21PM, as shown in the image below:

T-770 is shown here as AIMS Train ID 161; it was not a scheduled train departure from Vienna based on WMATA’s public train schedule.

A thorough review of all train departures from Vienna on August 12, 2018 shows T-770 was the only unscheduled revenue departure from Vienna that day.

T-770 serviced every station en route to Foggy Bottom.

This is a preliminary report. All information is subject to change as we learn more.

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Rail Transit OPS Group is an independent organization that monitors rail transit operations, performance, and safety procedures to proactively address potential issues. Rail Transit OPS is supported solely from independent contributions by individuals like you. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.