NTSB determines likely cause of Red Line crash

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By Ann Scott Tyson
Tuesday, July 27, 2010; 4:46 PM

4:35 p.m. Update: Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles released a statement after the crash.

"Today at Metro there is no higher value or priority than safetym," he said. "We have taken dozens of actions just in the last year, to improve safety for our customers and employees. And I pledged that we will carefully consider the comments, findings and recommendations that come forth from the National Transportation Safety Board today, and continue to work cooperatively with the NTSB just as we have in advance of today's meeting."

3:29 p.m. Update: Hersman concluded by summing up. "Yes, our recommendations are tough and set a high bar." But that is what the traveling public deserves, she said.

3:21 p.m. Update: The board has adopted the recommendations.

3:09 p.m. Update: The NTSB is now reviewing a lengthy list of recommendations, which includes recommendations for several other transit agencies across the country to identify track circuit modules similar to what caused the Metro crash and to remove them from service.

3:06 p.m. Update: Included in the probable cause is the fact that Metro failed to use a test -- developed years earlier -- that could have identified and prevented the problem at Fort Totten.

3:05 p.m. Update: The NTSB adopted about 39 findings on the cause of the Red Line crash and adopted a multifaceted probable cause statement about the crash, which includes a failure of the track circuit module designed to detect trains. The lack of safety culture, a failure to maintain the automatic train control system and the ineffectiveness of safety oversight all contributed to the accident, the NTSB said. The use of the 1000 series rail cars contributed to the severity of the crash and the loss of life, the NTSB found.

2:55 p.m. Update: Hersman: Some state oversight bodies do have appropriate authority. Refers to California and Massachusetts while the board considers an amendment to a finding on the Tri-State Oversight Committee's lack of authority.

2:48 p.m. Update: Another: Continued use of 1000 series cars is an "unacceptable risk."

2:46 p.m. Update: Proposed findings are now criticizing the board and the structure of Metro and problems with communication.

2:44 p.m. Update: Another: The Federal Transit Administration's current structure of oversight of transit systems is ineffective.

2:41 p.m. Update: Another finding would be that WMATA did not effectively distribute technical bulletins to its automatic train control technicians.


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