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From left: Firefighters comb through the wreckage after one Metro train struck another in June 2009, killing nine; relatives mourn at a memorial service for passenger Ana Fernandez; Metro General Manager John B. Catoe prepares to address the media from the scene of the crash.
The Investigation
Jan. 7

Metro train nearly hits independent safety inspectors

Train appeared to be traveling at full speed with no attempt to slow, as required by agency rules. Inspectors' near-miss came just days after Metro lifted six-month ban on monitors accessing live subway tracks.

Dec. 26

Metro often slow to act on safety recommendations

A Washington Post analysis of Tri-State Oversight Committee data shows that, as of Nov. 20, more than 100 safety corrections recommended after accidents, other incidents and audits were listed as not completed.

Nov. 15

Federal oversight of subways proposed

Administration officials say they are responding to growing number of collisions, derailments, worker fatalities on subways -- and in particular the fatal June 22 crash on Metro's Red Line and failures in oversight that have surfaced in its wake.

Nov. 11

Metro agrees to allow monitors on live tracks

Safety checks had been blocked since spring. 'We want to get something in writing,' panel chief says.

Nov. 9

Metro barred safety checks on tracks, data show

Monitors wanted to determine whether Metro was following rules put in place after recent worker fatalities.

Sept. 27

Sandwiching older Metro cars was a PR move

While repeatedly portraying move as one that might improve safety, interviews and documents show agency conducted no engineering analysis before launching initiative.

Sept. 6

After near-miss between trains in 2005, only limited testing

Failures of crash-avoidance system forced two operators to hit emergency brakes, each stopping with less than 40 feet to spare.

Aug. 10

Subway safety panel has little influence on Metro operations

While feds regulate many transit networks, subway safety is ceded to local panels; Metro oversight committee has no regulatory authority, no employees, no office or Web site.

Aug. 9

Metro safety system failed in near miss before June crash

Rush-hour train on Capitol Hill came "dangerously close" to another train on March 2 and halted only after the operator hit the emergency brake.

Reactions and Results
Timeline

Metro accident history

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SOURCES: Staff reports, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; CREDIT: Laura Stanton, Karen Yourish and Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso The Washington Post

 

March 5

Federal Transit Administration delivers scathing report on Metro safety

Investigation identifies pervasive flaws in rail safety at Metro and severe inadequacies in agency responsible for oversight; findings released Thursday call for widespread changes in how nation's second-busiest subway system is supervised and managed. | Video

Feb. 25

Metro's mixing of signal part brands could have caused crash, maker tells NTSB

Five days before the accident, Metro crews replaced a key piece of equipment with one from another manufacturer. After the equipment was replaced, the circuitry malfunctioned. "Alstom believes that the use of third-party components ... constitutes a serious and increasing risk to overall signaling system safety," wrote Alstom, which makes much of Metro's train detection equipment, in a Sept. 7, 2004, letter.

Feb. 24

Two near-misses and June crash linked, Metro official testifies

In 2005 and again in early 2009, Metro trains came perilously close to colliding, records show. On Tuesday, a Metro official testified that the same malfunction connects the near-misses with the June crash.

Feb. 23

Metro could face takeover if Senate safety ultimatum isn't met

Four senior U.S. senators made a bipartisan call on Monday for Metro to make immediate improvements or face "direct federal intervention," developments that escalated the battle over Metro's future to an unprecedented level and moved the focus to the transit agency's boardroom.

Jan. 27

NTSB investigates accident that killed two track workers

Federal officials trying to determine why driver of a Metro utility vehicle did not know employees were working behind him on the tracks.

Jan. 15

Target of unrelenting criticism, top Metro executive quits

John B Catoe, who ran agency for three years, said he wanted to give troubled agency chance for a new start. | Timeline: Catoe's bumpy ride | Video: Interview with Catoe | Photo gallery

McCartney: Catoe fell short, but no one could have saved Metro

After the "good riddance" toasts are over, the region is going to suffer a wicked hangover. Metro still needs to deal with structural problems that are far beyond the capacity of a single executive to solve. | Editorial: Metro adrift

Dec. 12

Metro chief replaces top deputy, safety officer

Move follows Sen. Mikulski's criticism; one-third of Catoe's leadership team has beenshuffled in past week.

Dec. 11

Metro management headed for shake-up, chairman says

Statement comes hours after Maryland senator says agency has been paying "lip service" to lapses in safety oversight and accountability.

Dec. 9

White House seeks federal oversight of rail-transit safety

U.S. Transportation Secretary unveils administration's plan to take over safety regulation of the nation's subway and light-rail systems.

Dec. 4

Metro to cut official who oversaw safety

Emeka Moneme was in charge of safety office when officials barred independent monitors from live tracks in April.

Nov. 21

It's time for feds to ensure safety of light rail and subways

EDITORIAL | Tens of millions of people ride these systems daily, but too often oversight falls to poorly staffed, underfunded, ill-equipped state agencies. Washington must step in.

Nov. 20

Board orders Metro employees to cooperate with oversight group

"Independent monitoring is vital for the safety of the system and to the maintenance of public confidence," board says.

Nov. 14

Metro transit police chief to oversee safety officer

Increased supervision comes after complaints that Dupigny-Samuels barred independent safety monitors from access to live railroad tracks.

Nov. 11

What does Metro have to hide?

EDITORIAL | Despite worker deaths, transit officials continue to stiff-arm perfectly reasonable requests by independent monitors to verify that safety procedures are up to snuff.

Nov. 10

Mikulski urges federal probe on Metro safety, blocked inspectors

"This is a case study on how the current patchwork of state safety organizations are failing our nation's commuters," another Senator says.

Sept. 30

Metro can rearrange its subway cars, but what about its finances?

EDITORIAL | Less crash-worthy 1000-series cars, in service since 1970s, are nearing the end of their lifespans -- but Metro is too broke to replace them.

Sept. 9

The end of 'trust us' at Metro

EDITORIAL | After a June accident that killed nine people near Fort Totten, transit agency needs vigorous oversight -- not the pretend variety.

Aug. 11

Is lack of oversight contributing to Metro problems?

EDITORIAL | Questions posed by The Post's reporting involve what amounts to a basic lack of oversight of the transit system, which needs outside scrutiny now more than ever.

About this investigation

On Monday, June 22, 2009, one subway train slammed into another in northeast Washington killing nine people and injuring 80. Metro described the failure of the automatic crash-avoidance system as a "freak occurrence." But an investigation by Post reporters Joe Stephens and Lena H. Sun found the system had failed more than once before the crash. They also discovered that oversight was lax, that scores of safety deficiencies had languished uncorrected for years, and that Metro -- despite claims to the contrary -- had barred monitors from observing safety practices along live subway tracks.

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