WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Metro is back on track to have more service and 7000-series cars in the mix.
On Tuesday the Washington Metrorail Safety commissioners met for the first time since last week’s finger-pointing over train operators who didn’t have enough training.
After many audits were done, Metro still has 127 corrective action plans that it’s in the process of implementing.
Additionally, based on safety investigations from January 2022 through November 2022 Metrorail developed 120 corrective actions. Of those, Metro said 58% are completed.
The WMSC is making sure those orders are being followed.
Commissioners with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission have questions: “Did Metro let operators without enough training get behind the wheel?”
“Do we think that in their zeal to expedite getting more operators that they’re cutting a few corners? Is that a possibility?” asked Robert Lauby, an alternate commissioner for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“I think that’s a possibility,” said David Meyer, CEO of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.
Last week, it was revealed that more than 50 operators didn’t meet training requirements.
“Metrorail confirmed last week that had been bypassing its safety training processes and assigning train operators directly to operate trains and passenger service with another train operator as a mentor,” Meyer said.
As of Tuesday morning, the WMSC said 51 of the 54 operators mentioned have completed the proper instruction. Three are currently on leave.
WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke said last Monday, “While Metro could have done a better job documenting that adjustment, it was not done in a vacuum. It was done by seasoned professionals with lots of experience and did not compromise safety.”
The other big issue revealed was miscommunication. There was a case in late December where Metro engineers determined cars with certain measurements should not be in service.
“However, they have not informed frontline maintenance personnel not to put those such cars into service,” said Sharmila Samarasinghe, deputy CEO and COO of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.
After more data was submitted last Friday, the w-m-s-c is allowing Metro to continue with the 7000-series return to service plan.
“The information and WMSC’s continuing review of other Metrorail data provided the necessary safety assurances for a progression from a four-day to a seven-day inspection cycle,” Samarasinghe said.
Fewer inspections allow more cars to be on the tracks.
The next big step for Metro is going back to automatic train operation. That will require different training for a system that hasn’t been used in more than 13 years. The WMSC says it’s working with Metro to review its level of preparedness.
“Our review includes questions about timelines training, roadway worker protection and the preparedness of not just the physical systems but the organization itself to effectively and safely operate what is a completely new system for most current Metrorail frontline employees,” Meyer said.