Metro Employee Fatally Injured Near Vienna Station

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 10, 2009; 1:59 AM

A Metro employee was fatally injured Sunday night when he was struck by track maintenance equipment on the Orange Line in Fairfax County, a Metro spokeswoman said.

The employee, who was not named immediately, was struck about 9:50 p.m. between the Dunn Loring and Vienna stations while working on a scheduled track maintenance project, according to Metro.

"All of us are terribly saddened," said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

The maintenance project involved replacement of cross ties between the rails on which the trains run. The employee was struck by a ballast regulator, equipment that itself rides on the rails.

The equipment deposits and spreads the stone or gravel known as ballast upon which the ties and rails rest, particularly in outdoor parts of the system. The ballast provides drainage and stability.

It was not immediately clear early Monday why the accident occurred, and Metro said it would be investigated.

The worker who was killed was a member of the crew that was putting the ballast in place, Farbstein said. His age was not immediately available but he had worked for Metro for about 25 years, the spokeswoman said.

Farbstein said she expected that the Orange Line would operate Monday morning in the area where the accident occurred.

"We believe we will have service," she said.

However, she said, it was possible that trains would operate in both directions on a single track in the area involved. Single tracking operations normally entail delays.

The track maintenance project between the West Falls Church and Vienna stations had been scheduled to begin Friday night and run throughout the weekend.

Service on that segment of the Orange line was suspended after the accident, and shuttle buses were provided, Metro said.

Sunday night's accident comes at a time of heightened concern about safety on the rail system. The death was the second this year of a Metro employee in an accident on the rail line. The first was that of a train operator who was killed in the June crash on the Red Line. Eight passengers died in that crash.

From October 2005 to November 2006, four Metro employees were killed when they were struck by Metro trains in three accidents.

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