Thursday, September 13, 2012

NTSB closes five outstanding safety recommendations on WMATA

The National Transportation Safety Board closed five of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's outstanding safety recommendations.

"I am encouraged by this progress and want to commend Metro's leadership for their hard work to make the system safer," WMATA Board Safety Committee Chair Mort Downey said.

Of 22 remaining NTSB recommendations, WMATA has submitted 12 for closure. Of those 12, the NTSB responded to four declaring them as "open—acceptable response(s)," meaning they will remain open pending submission of additional documentation. WMATA is working to provide this information in the near future. Eight submittals are still under NTSB review.

"That leaves 10 recommendations to address," said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles. "Within the next month or so, Metro will submit three additional recommendations for closure. And we are working to achieve closure for the remaining seven."

Downey noted that some of the recommendations would take time, such as the replacement of the 1000-series Rohr rail cars. The 1000-series cars will be replaced with new new Kawasaki 7000-series cars, which are currently going through a final design process.

The five recommendations closed by NTSB are:

1. Safety Recommendation R-09-6: Take action to enhance the safety redundancy of [WMATA's] train control system by evaluating track occupancy data on a real-time basis in order to detect losses in track occupancy and automatically generate alerts. Alerts should prompt actions that include immediately stopping train movements or implementing appropriate speed restrictions to prevent collisions.

2. Safety Recommendation R-10-8: Because of the susceptibility to pulse-type parasitic oscillation that can cause a loss of train detection by the Generation 2 General Railway Signal Company audio frequency track circuit modules, establish a program to permanently remove from service all of these modules within the WMATA system.

3. Safety Recommendation R-10-14: Implement cable insulation resistance testing that we recommended as part of WMATA's periodic maintenance program.

4. Safety Recommendation R-10-15: Work with the Tri-State Oversight Committee to satisfactorily address the recommendations contained in the Federal Transit Administration's March 4, 2010, final report of its audit of the Tri-State Oversight Committee and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

5. Safety Recommendation R-10-18: Review the Hazard Identification and Resolution Matrix process in your system safety program plan to ensure that safety-critical systems such as the automatic train control system and its subsystem components are assigned appropriate levels of risk in light of the issues identified in [the Fort Totten] accident.

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