Metro still does not know cause of Monday’s low-speed train crash

UPDATE 10/08/2019: The investigation into the cause of a low-speed train collision outside Farragut West is ongoing, including analysis of railcar data recorders, control center event logs, and signal system playback. 

While Metro has not yet identified the root cause of the incident, investigators have found no evidence of a signal system failure and have ruled out “loss of shunt” as a cause. Data analysis shows that all trains in the area were properly detected by the signal system, and appropriate speed commands were sent to the trains to maintain safe spacing.

The investigation is also reviewing human factors as a possible cause. Formal interviews of both train operators were conducted this morning by Metro safety investigators and Washington Metrorail Safety Commission investigators, and both operators submitted to required post-incident toxicology testing. The operators will remain out of service during the investigation.

Below is a summary of preliminary findings as of 3:30 p.m. Monday, October 7:

  • A low-speed collision involving two non-passenger trains occurred at 12:54 a.m. Monday, October 7, on the eastbound track (track #1) outside Farragut West Station. The trains were returning to railyards after completing special post-baseball game trips. 
  • Train 755 was stopped outside Farragut West when it was struck in the rear by Train 700 at approximately 11 mph.
  • Both trains received “zero speed” commands from the signal system due to an occupied track ahead (a train on the platform at Metro Center).
  • Event recorders show Train 755 and Train 700 responded to the signal system commands and came to a stop, as required. The investigation is currently working to establish the sequence of events between Train 700 coming to a stop and the collision with Train 755.

UPDATE 10/7/2019 6:35 a.m.- Customers on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines will encounter significant delays throughout the day, Monday, October 7, due to an overnight rear-end train collision outside Farragut West. There were no passengers aboard the trains, which were being moved to their home rail yards.

Metro is strongly encouraging customers on these lines to consider using alternate travel modes today to avoid delays.

  • Orange Line: Trains will operate about every 15 minutes, even at rush hour, with single-tracking between Farragut West and McPherson Square. Significant crowding is likely during rush hour.
  • Blue Line: Trains will operate about every 15 minutes, even at rush hour, with single-tracking between Farragut West and McPherson Square. Significant crowding is likely during rush hour.
  • Silver Line: Trains will operate about every 15 minutes between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston ONLY. Customers will need to transfer to/from Orange Line trains at Ballston to continue their trip.

Metro will honor its “Rush Hour Promise” for delays during the AM commute. However, Rush Hour Promise will be suspended on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines during the PM rush hour.

October 7, 2019, 1:05 a.m.- Metro is investigating an overnight rear-end collision involving two out-of-service trains that were in the process of being moved to their respective rail yards. The incident occurred at approximately 12:54 a.m. between Foggy Bottom and Farragut West stations. The trains, each comprised of six 3000-series cars, were traveling in the same direction (eastbound) on the same track.

There were no passengers aboard either train. Both train operators (one per train) requested medical assistance for non-life-threatening injuries. All railcars remained on the tracks, and there was no reported damage to tunnel infrastructure. An assessment of railcar damage is pending.

Metro has launched a full investigation to determine the cause of the incident, including analysis of event recorders and inspections of railcar and signal systems. In addition, Metro notified the Metropolitan Washington Safety Commission and the National Transportation Safety Board as required.

While Metro will work to restore normal service as quickly as possible, conducting a thorough on-scene safety investigation is the first priority. As a result, customers on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are advised that delays—and potentially single tracking—are likely during the morning rush hour. Customers may wish to consider alternate travel modes to avoid delays.

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