Safety failures may cost D.C. train system federal funding
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) must conduct an “after action review” of a May 5 arc flash incident in a train station and review with all operating personnel, supervisors and management procedures related to managing fire and smoke emergencies or risk losing federal funding, under a threat by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
WMATA also needs to implement "immediate mitigations" to reduce amperage draw in high risk areas. Mitigations could include reducing train lengths, turning off regenerative braking to reduce power being introduced into the system, and reducing acceleration speed to draw less current.
A safety directive sent by the FTA earlier this month spelled out those and other steps WMATA must take in order to avoid having its services shut down or lose up to 25 percent of its funding.
"Supervision at all levels of Metrorail operations must ensure that decision-making is made on the basis of safety and not operational convenience," according to the directive. "All employees will receive training on the primacy of safety in Metrorail operations."
An explosion caused by an arcing insulator and a debris fire both occurred on May 5th, following an earlier smoke incident April 23. WMATA failed to notify the FTA of the fire incident, as required. The agency also said an operations supervisor failed to perform a thorough inspection of the damaged track before ordering that service be resumed.
The FTA says WMATA must also identify and repair “hot spots” on the third-rail system.
WMATA has outlined a plan known as “Safe Track” which will necessitate shutdowns of up to a month in order to repair and improve tracks.