Metro's Board Approves Funds for Safety Upgrades

Changes follow recent accidents, fatalities and budget cuts

By Elaine Reyes
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 12:01 PM EDT
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Metro's Board Approves Funds for Safety Upgrades

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WASHINGTON - JUNE 23: Investigators work at the site where two Red Line Metrorail trains collided with one another between the Fort Totten and Takoma Park stations during last evening's rush hour on June 23, 2009 in Washington, DC. At least nine people died and dozens were injured in the crash. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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Metro is implementing new safety measures that should make the rail system somewhat safer -- by 2011.

The transit agency will install rollback protection software on all of its 5000 series rail cars, putting it in compliance with the NTSB. It is designed to prevent trains from rolling backward while operating in manual mode.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended all rail passenger cars have rollback protection. It came as a result of a November 2004 accident when an empty train rolled back and hit another train at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station. Some of its other rail cars already have the software.

Repairs should conclude by the end of summer. Board members approved the $800,000 installation.

They also approved $2.6 million in door repairs.

That's the result of three incidents in 2008 where trains that were operating in automatic mode had the doors open on the wrong side of the tracks at station stops.

Trains have been functioning in manual mode since a fatal collision on June 22, 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of that accident.

The door repairs are expected to be completed in spring 2011.

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