Less than a week after an unprecedented shut down of the D.C. Metro system over safety concerns, the Federal Transit Administration WMATA Safety Oversight Office is launching their own safety blitz and focusing on key areas.
The blitz, which started on Monday, will address three areas with which the FTA has concerns: Red signal overruns, track integrity, and rail vehicle securement.
A release from the FTA indicated Metro trains have experienced 50 red signal violations since 2012 and had more overruns in 2015 than in the previous two years. They said these occurrences have continued into 2016.
In its WMATA safety oversight role, FTA has confirmed several instances where employees in WMATA rail yards are not following the transit agency’s own rules on keeping trains secure and stopped. They said as a result of failing to following the rules, trains have rolled away, striking other equipment or infrastructure.
WMATA has already begun dealing with track integrity with the shutdown of rail service to inspect tracks for jumper cable conditions. Smoke and fire from jumper cable failures caused the fatal incident at L'Enfant Plaza in January 2015, and another incident at the McPherson Square station in March 2016.
The final report on all three areas is expected by early summer. The FTA said the findings could lead to new safety directives for WMATA with additional corrective actions needed.