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August 9, 2016

US FTA issues safety directive to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued a safety directive 16-4 to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to complete 12 actions in order to correct track integrity deficiencies in the Metrorail system.

By Srivani Venna

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued a safety directive 16-4 to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to complete 12 actions in order to correct track integrity deficiencies in the Metrorail system. 

The directive is based on 12 significant findings, which are outlined in a new track integrity investigation report that includes findings from FTA’s 'Safety Blitz' assessment of Metrorail earlier this year.

They address WMATA’s systemic deficiencies in track inspection resources and training; its track inspection manual; track quality oversight and supervision; as well as track construction and maintenance.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “FTA’s comprehensive investigation into WMATA’s track inspection and maintenance program has revealed significant safety concerns.

“FTA has directed Metrorail to take specific action to correct these deficiencies, and continues to provide vigorous oversight of Metrorail’s safety efforts in other areas of operations.”

The report comprises details pertaining to systemic deficiencies in the inspection, maintenance and repair of track and also includes findings from FTA’s investigation of the Metrorail passenger train derailment that took place on 29 July near the East Falls Church Station.

“FTA has directed Metrorail to take specific action to correct these deficiencies, and continues to provide vigorous oversight of Metrorail’s safety efforts in other areas of operations.”

FTA acting administrator Carolyn Flowers said: “While WMATA has taken a number of critical steps to address safety deficiencies, it must improve its track safety protocols and training programmes.

“In addition, greater coordination is needed between WMATA track and maintenance personnel to prioritise work and adhere to established standards, including conditions that warrant speed restrictions or single tracking.”

The FTA track integrity investigation started earlier this year after reviewing WMATA’s investigation into a derailment that occurred last August near Smithsonian Station.

Taking place between March and June, the investigation focused on ten specific track segments, including portions of all six Metrorail lines.

As directed by safety directive 16-4, WMATA is required to develop corrective action plans to address the findings of the report.


Image: US FTA’s new directive is based on 12 significant findings that are outlined in a new track integrity investigation report. Photo: courtesy of US Department of Transportation.

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