Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-15-009
Details
Synopsis: On January 12, 2015, at 3:15 p.m., eastern standard time, southbound WMATA Metrorail train 302 stopped after encountering heavy smoke in a subway tunnel between L'Enfant Plaza station and the Potomac River Bridge. One passenger fatality and 86 persons transported.
Recommendation: TO THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY: Develop and implement detailed written tunnel ventilation procedures for operations control center staff that take into account the probable source location of smoke and fire, the location of the train, the best evacuation route, and unique infrastructure features; these procedures should be based on the most effective strategy for fan direction and activation to limit passengers’ exposure to smoke.(Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Railroad
Location: Washington, DC, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA15FR004
Accident Reports: ​Preliminary Report: WMATA Smoke and Electrical Arcing Accident in Washington, DCWashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority L’Enfant Plaza Station Electrical Arcing and Smoke Accident
Report #: RAR-16-01
Accident Date: 1/12/2015
Issue Date: 2/11/2015
Date Closed: 1/29/2018
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date: 1/29/2018
Response: We are pleased that you have contracted a third-party consultant to update your emergency standard operating procedures for fire and life safety processes in tunnels and underground stations. The formal report that you submitted reviewed existing operations and tunnel ventilation system procedures, evaluated emergency rail operations procedures, and detailed procedure revisions. We note that you also developed an employee training program that includes “train the trainers” efforts, direct employee training, and additional training recommendations. The formal report is extensive and includes scenarios involving ventilation fan activation, tunnel evacuation, and fire safety training. These actions satisfy Safety Recommendation R 15-9, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
To: NTSB
Date: 9/8/2017
Response: This letter is to request closure of Safety Recommendation NTSB R-15-9 from February 11, 2015. The recommendation stated: "Develop and implement detailed written tunnel ventilation procedures for operations control center staff that take into account the probable source location of smoke and fire, the location of the train, the best evacuation route, and unique infrastructure features; these procedures should be based on the most effective strategy for fan direction and activation to limit passengers' exposure to smoke." WMATA is providing the attached documentation of completed actionable items addressing the safety recommendation. Completion of actionable items demonstrates our organizational commitment to improving the safety and reliability of the Metrorail system, our riders and employees. Please contact me for any additional information or clarification.

From: NTSB
To: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date: 10/12/2016
Response: We note that you have contracted a third-party consultant to update your emergency standard operating procedures for fire and life safety processes in tunnels and underground stations. We have not yet received the formal report you stated would be submitted to us for review last month; we look forward to receiving it in the very near future. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation R-15-009 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
To: NTSB
Date: 4/13/2016
Response: -From Louis J. Brown, Jr., Acting Chief Safety Officer: This communication is in response to your March 24, 2016, letter concerning the urgent safety recommendations (R-15-8 through-1 0) and safety recommendation R-15-25 issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concerning the investigation of the electrical arcing and smoke incident near the WMATA L'Enfant Plaza station in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2015. This letter provides a status update for these four recommendations (see attached matrix including estimated completion dates). In addition, in the collective review of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) NTSB recommendations, the attached documentation is provided for your consideration to support the closure of recommendation R-15-8, as all fans and ventilation systems are fully operable and in a state of good repair. Third party consultant has been contracted to update emergency standard operating procedures for fire and life safety processes in tunnels and underground stations. The work will include review of existing operations and tunnel ventilation system procedures, evaluation of rail operations procedures during emergencies, and revisions to procedures. A formal report will be developed and submitted for NTSB review and consideration for closure by mid-September 2016.

From: NTSB
To: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date: 3/24/2016
Response: We understand that you have contracted a professional and technical services firm to update your emergency standard operating procedures for fire and life safety processes in tunnels and underground stations. You may also wish to contact the Federal Transit Administration or Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for information and assistance in developing and implementing the recommended plan. We would like to review your updated standard operating procedures, once they have been finalized. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation R-15-9 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
To: NTSB
Date: 8/11/2015
Response: -From James M. Dougherty, Chief Safety Officer: This is in response to your February 11 , 2015, letter concerning the urgent safety recommendations (R-15-8 through-1 0) and your June 8, 2015, letter concerning safety recommendation R-15-25 issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concerning the investigation of the electrical arcing and smoke incident near the WMATA L'Enfant Plaza station in Washington, D.C., on January 12, 2015. This letter provides a status update for these four recommendations (see attached matrix including estimated completion dates). In addition, in the collective review of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) National Transportation Safety Board recommendation, the attached documentation is provided for your consideration to support the closure of recommendation R-15-8.