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.

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Preliminary Report: 6/30/18 – Incorrect Routing of Green Line Train

On Saturday, June 30, 2018 at about 6:18 p.m., Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Green Line Train 502 (T-502) headed from Greenbelt to Branch Avenue was incorrectly routed through two switches while in approach to the Fort Totten Metrorail station. The train came to rest in the non-revenue, single-track connector known as the B&E, which links the Red Line to the outbound Green Line.

The train operator of T-502 reversed operating ends of the train twice in order to move the train from the connector track back to the outbound Green Line track, then cross over to the inbound track where it should have been. This resulted in a 12-minute delay for the train’s passengers.

There were no injuries or damage during the incident. There was also no risk of a collision as, although the routing was incorrect for this particular train, it is a legitimate and viable routing; the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system is designed to halt any conflicting train movements if any are detected.

Based on the information that is available to us, we believe the probable cause of this incident is human error on the part of both the train operator of T-502 and the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) staff.

The operator of T-502 failed to properly scan the tracks ahead and identify the first incorrect switch setting, which allowed the train to cross over from Track 2 (the inbound track) to Track 1 (the outbound track) on the Green Line. The second switch took the train from Track 1 to the B&E (connector track). These switches are protected by signals E06-08 (which protects movement from Track 2 to Track 1 under normal train traffic) and E06-52 (which protects movement from Track 1 to the B&E), respectively.

Both signals identified above should have been showing a ‘flashing lunar’ aspect, i.e. a white flashing light indicating that the switch is aligned for a diverging route to the other track. Additionally, the operator should have recognized that the speed commands being sent to their train indicated a reduced top speed of 28 MPH before the first switch; this speed is one of a small subset indicative of a impending crossover move, which could have alerted the operator to the incorrect routing. The operator of T-502 should have stopped the train upon seeing the flashing lunar at E06-08 and contacted the ROCC.

It is unclear why the switches were aligned for the movement T-502 took, as no trains utilized that route immediately prior to T-502. The ROCC controller should have identified earlier that the signal E06-52 was showing a proceed indication, which would be an unusual occurrence during normal operations.

Images below are from our partner DCMetroHero displaying the movements of Train 502 into the B&E Connector

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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.

January 2, 2018 Shady Grove Yard Derailment

At about 6:52AM EST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, the third car of an eight-car 7000-series train preparing to enter revenue service at Shady Grove station (A15) derailed while passing a switch within the Shady Grove rail yard (A99). The only personnel aboard the train at the time of the derailment was the train operator, who was uninjured. Damages to the railcars and track infrastructure are still being assessed by Metro.

A Google Maps satellite image of the area surrounding the location of the incident. The red pin in the WMATA Shady Grove Rail Yard indicates the approximate location of the derailment relative to other landmarks, like Shady Grove station.

The non-revenue train was traversing the outer of the two “loop tracks,” which curve around the northern side of the yard, destined for Shady Grove station; upon arrival, it was expected to enter revenue service as Red Line Train 107.

The train’s operator reported a derailment of the 3rd car in the train, car 7297, after feeling the train jerk. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the scene as well as WMATA Emergency Management, Automatic Train Control, Car Maintenance, and Kawasaki personnel.

The derailment was reported over the diamond interlocking by signal A99/26. The train was intended to receive a straight-through move from A99/26 signal to A15/36 signal at Shady Grove station.

A diesel locomotive known as a Prime Mover from within the Shady Grove rail yard was dispatched to begin re-railing the train car once the incident investigation completed.

Second incident shuts down

A separate incident in which smoke was seen emanating from the Shady Grove rail yard Traction Power Station (TPS) was reported at approximately 7am. All power to the yard was brought down to allow WMATA Power crews and MCFRS to investigate.

During this time, handbrakes were applied to multiple cars on unsecured trains stored in the rail yard and train moves within the yard were halted.

The yard was reenergized at around 7:45am.

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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.

New 35 MPH Speed Restrictions on RD/BL/OR/SV Lines

On Sunday, August 13, 2017 the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) implemented a blanket order reducing the maximum authorized speed of trains to thirty-five (35) miles per hour in the following locations:

RED Line: Medical Center > Union Station

ORANGE Line: Rosslyn > Minnesota Ave

BLUE/SILVER Lines: Rosslyn > Benning Rd

Allow for additional travel time on all the affected lines even outside of the restriction area as cascading delays can occur.

[Click here to read more about the new restrictions.]

The Red Line is expected to experience a noticable delays in both directions especially during rush hour commutes.

Visit our partner DC MetroHero to view train locations and additional information that can assist you with your commutes.

Rail Transit OPS is reviewing the cause of the additional speed restriction, as prior restrictions were forty five (45) miles per hour.

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.

Event Review on Blue Line Train 416 offload at Crystal City on August 2, 2017

On Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at about 5:50 p.m. EDT, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Blue Line Train 416 was offloaded at Crystal City due to a failure of the public address and passenger emergency intercom systems. During the offload process, the train operator and a rail car maintenance employee were rushed by the radio controller in the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) to move the train. This resulted in preventing all passengers from exiting the train upon the initial offload attempt at Crystal City. All remaining passengers were offloaded at the following station, National Airport. Rail Transit OPS is concerned that the ROCC radio controller was prioritizing maintaining revenue service over the safety of removing passengers from a defective train.

WMATA Blue Line Train 416 was an eight car train with a lead car of 7096 which departed Largo Town Center at 4:53 p.m. en route to Franconia-Springfield. The train operator reported problems with the public address system, and a rail car maintenance employee boarded the train at Metro Center to attempt to troubleshoot the malfunction. As the train serviced the Pentagon station, the car maintenance employee reported to the ROCC controller that the train was experiencing a failure of the public address system, passenger emergency intercoms, and destination signs.

Blue Line trains change between two different ROCC territories and different sets of rail traffic controllers between Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon.

At 5:47 p.m., Train 416 was instructed by the ROCC radio controller to offload the train at Crystal City. Since the public address system was not functioning, the train operator and rail car maintenance employee were required to physically enter each of the eight rail cars to instruct passengers to exit the train. Two minutes later at 5:49 p.m., the ROCC radio controller instructed Train 416 to continue on in order to move the train into the center track at National Airport. This was over the protest of both the train operator and rail car maintenance employee, who stated that passengers were still exiting the train.

At 5:50 p.m., the ROCC controller again contacted Train 416 with “it’s rush hour sir” and instructed the operator of Train 416 to “close and continue” three times. The train operator stated that he couldn’t close the doors on people while they were still exiting the train. The ROCC controller then again instructed the train operator to close the doors. Passengers still aboard the train in multiple rail cars were therefore unable to exit the train at Crystal City. Immediately following the transmission, the ROCC controller contacted a rail supervisor to re-instruct the operator of 416 for not moving the train at Crystal City.

Train 416 arrived at National Airport and all remaining passengers exited the train, which was verified clear at 5:54 p.m.

At 6:07 p.m. Train 416 departed National Airport without passengers onboard, en route to Alexandria Yard by way of Franconia-Springfield.

Findings:

  • Train 416 operator was following correct procedures during this event.
  • Railcar maintenance employees were following correct procedures during this event.
  • ROCC OPS3 controllers were seemingly more concerned about maintaining schedule adherence than about the safety of passengers exiting a train with a non-functioning public address system.
  • Had the ROCC controllers allowed Train 416 to complete its offload at Crystal City, there would have been no confusion among the passengers who remained stuck aboard the train an extra stop.

 

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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.