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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-16-003
Details
Synopsis: On January 12, 2015, at 3:15 p.m. eastern standard time, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) southbound Yellow Line train 302, with about 380 passengers on board, stopped after encountering heavy smoke in the tunnel between the L’Enfant Plaza station and the Potomac River bridge in Washington, DC. The operator of train 302 told the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) that the train was filling with smoke and he needed to return to the station. The WMATA ROCC allowed train 510, following train 302, to enter the L’Enfant Plaza station, which also was filling with smoke. Train 302 was unable to return to the station before power to the electrified third rail, which supplied the train’s propulsion power, was lost. Some passengers on train 302 evacuated the train on their own, and others were assisted in evacuating by first responders from the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS). As a result of the accident, 91 people were injured, including passengers, emergency responders, and WMATA employees, and one passenger died. WMATA estimated the total damages to be $120,000. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been concerned with the safety of the WMATA rail system since 1970, when it conducted a special study of the proposed transit rail system while it was still under construction. The resulting report, NTSB/RSS-70/1, Study of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Safety Procedures for the Proposed Metro System, resulted in one safety recommendation to WMATA to “develop the capability within WMATA for system safety engineering and apply system safety principles to all aspects of the proposed [rail] system to identify, assess, and correct those deficiencies identified by the analysis.” This accident is the 13th WMATA rail accident investigated by the NSTB since WMATA rail began operation in 1976. The NTSB has issued 101 safety recommendations to WMATA since 1970.
Recommendation: TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Convene an independent panel of experts to (1)assess the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department’s preparedness to respond to mass casualty events in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) underground system, (2) identify and make recommendations to improve this preparedness, and (3) share the findings of that assessment with the other local jurisdictions with WMATA underground systems.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Await Response
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: 5/23/2016
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: District of Columbia (Open - Await Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: District of Columbia
Date: 7/20/2018
Response: In the 2 years since this recommendation was issued, you have not sent us any information on actions that you have completed or are taking to satisfy it, and Safety Recommendation R-16-3 is currently classified OPEN--AWAIT RESPONSE. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure that the traveling public is provided the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that might be shared with others. We normally expect actions to address our recommendations to be completed within 3 to 5 years. Please update us at correspondence@ntsb.gov regarding your actions to address Safety Recommendation R-16-3, and do not submit both an electronic and a hard copy of the same response.

From: NTSB
To: District of Columbia
Date: 5/23/2016
Response: On May 3, 2016,the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its report concerning the January 12, 2015,WashingtonMetropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) L’Enfant Plaza station electrical arcing and smoke accident.1 Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the report of the investigation, which can be accessed at our website, http://www.ntsb.gov,under report number RAR-16/01. As a result of this investigation, we issued 31new recommendations, including 2to the Federal Transit Administration, 3to the District of Columbia Office of Unified Communications, 1 to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, 24 to WMATA, and the following recommendation to the mayor of the District of Columbia: R-16-03 Convene an independent panel of experts to (1) assess the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department’s preparedness to respond to mass casualty events in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) underground system, (2) identify and make recommendations to improve this preparedness, and (3) share the findings of that assessment with the other local jurisdictions with WMATA underground systems. Chairman HART, Vice Chairman DINH-ZARR, and Members SUMWALT and WEENER concurred in this recommendation. The NTSB is vitally interested in this recommendation because it is designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within 90days detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement it. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendation by number. We encourage you to submit your response electronically to correspondence@ntsb.gov.