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NTSB Issues "Urgent" Safety Recommendations to DC Metro Authority

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a statement Monday containing “Urgent Safety Recommendations” for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in the wake of last month’s deadly Metro accident. The investigators said the electrical train control system should fail safe by stopping a train whenever detection of a preceding train is lost. They called on WMATA to use real time data to automatically generate alerts when information on track occupancy is lost or interrupted.

In a second “urgent recommendation” the NTSB asked the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to “advise all rail transit operators with train control systems capable of monitoring train movements to evaluate their systems for adequate safety redundancy.”

“While the NTSB is still in the very early stages of its investigation into this tragic accident here in our nation’s capital," said Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker, "we have concerns about the failure of WMATA’s train control system to prevent this collision." Rosenker continued, "By calling upon WMATA to take swift action to upgrade the safety redundancy of its system and by urging FTA to alert other transit agencies of the hazards of single point failures such as the one experienced by WMATA, we hope to prevent something similar from happening again."

In accordance with NTSB protocol, the safety recommendations were issued to the heads of both agencies with a request for a response from each organization within 30 days, addressing the actions taken or planned in response to the Board’s recommendation.