$1 billion price tag for Metro safety fixes recommended by NTSB

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2010; B04

It will cost Metro almost $1 billion to implement the safety fixes recommended by federal officials after the deadly June 2009 Red Line crash, officials said Wednesday.

The new cost estimate, the first since the National Transportation Safety Board in July issued 15 recommendations for Metro and one to its board of directors to improve the safety of its trains, totals at least $935 million, Metro board Chairman Peter Benjamin wrote in an Aug. 16 letter to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).

The replacement of 300 of Metro's older 1000 series rail cars represents the bulk of the costs, at $835 million. Metro has planned to replace those cars when the new 7000 series cars are delivered in 2013, but officials are evaluating whether it can take its older cars off-line sooner.

The replacement of track circuit modules, blamed in the June 22, 2009, crash that killed nine and injured dozens, would cost $55 million; a "rigorous safety analysis" of the automatic train-control system would cost $25 million; three years of testing cables would cost $10 million; onboard event recorders on 1000 and 4000 series trains would cost $9 million; and an enhanced maintenance program would cost $1 million. Other costs associated with the automatic train-control system are not known.

Benjamin said $300 million in federal and matching local funding would help cover most, if not all, of the costs. Metro approved the purchase of the new rail cars this summer.

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