Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

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Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby MCL1981 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 8:45 am

How long would this crap last on a real railroad? This obviously didn't just start either. There's just outside inspectors there to see an report it now.

http://wtop.com/tracking-metro-24-7/201 ... nspectors/
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Oct 22, 2016 9:07 am

I'm tempted to answer, but I don't really have an answer for that, namely because all we have is observational evidence.

From what I'm seeing, WMATA can only operate in two different ways:
  • Manual, where the operator has total control but also has to have total awareness (which is happening now)... and total responsibility to everything
  • Automatic, where a computer controls everything past certain triggers that the operator hits... and the emergency stop mushroom button.

MTA's Light Rail has a third way, where there's a speed and signal enforcement system (Automatic Train Protection) which sends a speed and signal line into the vehicle, and if you're going over, you're getting beeped at for five seconds before you go into emergency and everything stops. (ATP isn't done well up in Baltimore, BTW, as you get signal dropouts, but that's besides this point).

Call it "Regulated" but I bet WMATA needs that "third way" to prevent these types of accidents. Granted, setting them up will need dispatcher coordination, but aren't they supposed to be doing their jobs anyway?
I ride the (MTA Maryland) Penn Line (between Odenton and Baltimore). I used to work for MTA Maryland's IT department, and out of professional courtesy my responses may be limited. Wikimapia is wonderful (for track/interlocking locations)!
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:34 pm

It's reported that 2 "train operators" blew thru a reduced speed zone where the inspectors were working.
If there was a notice of this work zone posted where the crews sign in to start work,they didn't read it or
"spaced it" out of their minds.
Figure they get a short unwanted 2 week "vacation" instead of getting canned outright.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby STrRedWolf » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:43 am

Backshophoss wrote:It's reported that 2 "train operators" blew thru a reduced speed zone where the inspectors were working.
If there was a notice of this work zone posted where the crews sign in to start work,they didn't read it or
"spaced it" out of their minds.
Figure they get a short unwanted 2 week "vacation" instead of getting canned outright.


Given Wiederfield, he'll probably want their heads... but with the union, they'll be back in three months.
I ride the (MTA Maryland) Penn Line (between Odenton and Baltimore). I used to work for MTA Maryland's IT department, and out of professional courtesy my responses may be limited. Wikimapia is wonderful (for track/interlocking locations)!
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby Sand Box John » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:16 am

Back in the day WMATA would lower the limiting speed limit from ROCC when folks were on the ground on top of issuing written orders of same.

On the several occasion I have ridden the railroad sense the Fort Totten wreck I have noticed that on board ATC does not sound the over speed alarm when the regulated speed limit drops below the actual speed.

The regulated speed limit is used to maintain proper spacing of trains for scheduling purposes and is typically lower then the limiting speed limit.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby MCL1981 » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:30 am

STrRedWolf wrote:I'm tempted to answer, but I don't really have an answer for that, namely because all we have is observational evidence.

From what I'm seeing, WMATA can only operate in two different ways:
  • Manual, where the operator has total control but also has to have total awareness (which is happening now)... and total responsibility to everything
  • Automatic, where a computer controls everything past certain triggers that the operator hits... and the emergency stop mushroom button.

MTA's Light Rail has a third way, where there's a speed and signal enforcement system (Automatic Train Protection) which sends a speed and signal line into the vehicle, and if you're going over, you're getting beeped at for five seconds before you go into emergency and everything stops. (ATP isn't done well up in Baltimore, BTW, as you get signal dropouts, but that's besides this point).

Call it "Regulated" but I bet WMATA needs that "third way" to prevent these types of accidents. Granted, setting them up will need dispatcher coordination, but aren't they supposed to be doing their jobs anyway?


ATP and ATC are always on and always doing their thing. ATO is the only thing not being used. The operator operates the throttle and brake. But the system still issues and enforces speed commands including stop signals. The operator is responsible for responding to this speed commands and signals. If the operator does not, ATP and ATC will still stop the train. None of that really has anything to do with the topic though. There isn't a speed reduction signal for the scenario here. It's radioed by ROCC and the inspectors. The operators are just incompetent and ignore it.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby STrRedWolf » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:08 pm

So nobody set ATP to a much slower speed during the inspections?

It's ether ATP isn't working, isn't there, wasn't set up properly when it was installed, or ROCC isn't doing their jobs in setting it. Given the press, I'm inclined to say it's the ROCC.
I ride the (MTA Maryland) Penn Line (between Odenton and Baltimore). I used to work for MTA Maryland's IT department, and out of professional courtesy my responses may be limited. Wikimapia is wonderful (for track/interlocking locations)!
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby srepetsk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:05 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:So nobody set ATP to a much slower speed during the inspections?

It's ether ATP isn't working, isn't there, wasn't set up properly when it was installed, or ROCC isn't doing their jobs in setting it. Given the press, I'm inclined to say it's the ROCC.

AFAIK: ROCC can't change track speeds remotely while trains operate in manual mode (mode 2 level 1). ROCC can set performance levels, but only ATO adheres to those. Track units (primarily ATC) can turn couplers on the track to force trains to reduce speeds (used for medium & slow 35/15mph speed restrictions), but that can't be done remotely from ROCC.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby MCL1981 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:10 am

This isn't an ATP/ATC issue. This is train operators ignoring orders to slow down in a dictated area due to human beings walking the tracks. And it's apparently not a new or isolated problem.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby litz » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:46 am

That operation is just one head-scratcher after another, coming out in the news ...

Just baffling how they can function like that (and apparently keep doing so)
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby MCL1981 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:52 am

What's worse is it's been like this basically for decades. It's only just now receiving attention from the FTA. And it's only just now receiving media attention because the public no longer buys the glossed over regurgitated press releases the Washington Post regurgitated for years.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby smallfire85 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:54 am

Current Metro protocol is for operators to reduce speed when the see personnel on the roadway, not from a one station to the next, unless there are speed restrictions installed by ATC, which creates an enforced cab speed. That requires ATC to go to the local control room and rearrange the circuitry, which is time consuming. This current protocol has the potential for issues in certain locations such as blind curves or interlockings. This is why all job safety briefings require the identification of any hot spots in the work area and any measures to be taken when in them. Once personnel are given permission to walk, radio announcements are made regarding the location and markers are put up on the map in ROCC as a reminder.

If the inspectors had to basically "jump out of the way" to avoid the train, I can only think of the two curves south of the airport that doesn't give much time to clear from a train going at speed.

The inbound curve just south of the platform has good visibility until an outbound train leaves the station, which reduces visibility greatly and makes too much noise to see or hear an inbound train in time. The following curve over the GW Parkway has trees near the track about halfway through the curve, which creates a blind curve situation. Add the parkway and airport noise and you have one heck of a blind spot, especially since trains are running a decent clip by the time they reach that curve. Honestly, just about anywhere else near Airport Station has plenty of visibility to clear up in time.

Now, this does not excuse the operators, who should've been attentive to the announcements and alert to the conditions on the roadway. This is a safety issue that should not be an issue if people performed their work with diligence.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby smallfire85 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:56 am

What makes me scratch my head is that the FTA inspectors let two trains speed by before they raised an issue. They did the same thing in August when the let three Orange line trains speed by. I'd radio ROCC after the first speeding train, not wait to look for a pattern, especially if my life is on the line.

Safety enforcement is more effective when it's nipped in the butt right at the first violation, not after the fact.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:46 am

My understanding is they did radio ROCC before setting out to walk the tracks. And ROCC did radio the trains with orders to slow down. And that the train operators, as usual, blew it off.
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Re: Metro train nearly runs over safety inspectors

Postby smallfire85 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:47 am

MCL1981 wrote:My understanding is they did radio ROCC before setting out to walk the tracks. And ROCC did radio the trains with orders to slow down. And that the train operators, as usual, blew it off.


What I'm referring to is the event of the train speeding by them, not their initial request to enter the roadway. ROCC should've been notified of the speeding incident as soon as it occurred, not in an update report after the fact. That responsibility is up to all members of the working crew, especially ones tasked with safety oversight.
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