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July 29, 2010

A Defective Electronic Circuit is the Cause of the Metro Crash of June 22, 2009

Metro Crash.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), announced on July 27, 2010, that it had completed its investigation into the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) train crash of June 22, 2009.

The crash occurred around 5pm. Two red line trains were involved. One train slammed in to the back of another train, outside the Fort Totten Station, in Washington, D.C.. The rear train, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, crashed into the rear of the front train and was propelled about 65 feet into the air and landed on the front train. Many people were ejected from the rear train and nine people, including the operator of the rear train died on impact.

The cause of the crash was determined to be a defective electronic circuit and negligent safety standards. The defective track circuit modules cause the automatic train control (ATC) to lose detection of the trains traveling on the red line track. The circuit is responsible for maintaining a safe distance between trains traveling on the same track. This circuit began to lose its ability to detect trains on the track and therefore the trains collided, because there was not enough time for the rear train to stop before crashing into the front train. The crash could have been avoided had the necessary verification tests, that were developed in 2005, had been conducted. Had this test been used, the system failure would have been detected and the lives of the 9 victims could have been spared.

Furthermore, WMATA's failure to replace and retrofit its 1000- series rail cars (cars involved in the crash) was also determined to be a cause of the crash. WMATA failed to replace these cars, despite knowing they rated poorly, when it came to crashworthiness.

Metro Crash 2.jpgNumerous accident injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against WMATA as a result of the crash. Our office specifically is representing 2 parties injured in this crash.

Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the NTSB said, "Our hope is that the lessons learned from this accident will be not only a catalyst for change at WMATA, but also the cornerstone of a greater effort to establish a federal role in oversight and safety standards for rail transit systems across the nation."