Metro (WMATA)

Metro Calls Emergency Board Meeting Following Scathing Safety Review

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Metro held a rare emergency board executive meeting on Sunday that was closed to the public to discuss “safety and security matters when premature release would compromise public safety," according to a release.

The meeting followed a scathing review by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. A spokesperson for the safety commission said Metro is "deliberately ignoring" safety requirements with its train operators.

They also said recent issues about train operator training, 7000 series train car measurements and other safety concerns have been communicated to Metro leaders.

Though it was not confirmed if the board meeting is related to those issues, it follows recent concerning incidents involving operators.

The safety commission mentioned several of those incidents: In July 2021, a train operator didn’t know Franconia-Springfield was the end of the line. In November, an operator worked 30 days in a row and blew past track workers at an excessive speed. And in December, an operator “didn’t know where they were in the system” and ran a red signal.

As far as the lack of training for employees, the safety commission said Metro leadership told managers to “make no trains available for training.” It also stopped giving new operators time behind the wheel with an instructor.

According to the safety commission, the operator who ran a red signal had only practiced for 9 minutes out of the required 8 hours. The operator who recently overran a station had never driven a train on the mainline during training.

The safety commission also said Metro promised last April to make a number of safety fixes, such as increasing the amount of training for operators. But according to the commission’s report, the transit agency has already fallen behind on that plan and missed the first deadline.

News4 has reached out to WMATA about the meeting. A Metro board member said the transit agency plans to hold a press conference on Monday to address what was discussed.

This is a developing story. Stay with News4 for more updates. 

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