Loose Lips is all over this story, combing through the reports from the crash at the Woodley Park station. Here's a back and forth between the NTSB and WMATA:
NTSB:This morning NTSB spokesperson Debbie Hersman said "We recommended to WMATA to either retrofit those cars or phase them out of service. Those concerns were not addressed."
Either accelerate retirement of Rohr-built railcars, or if those railcars are not retired but instead rehabilitated, then the Rohr-built passenger railcars should incorporate a retrofit of crashworthiness collision protection that is comparable to the 6000-series railcars. (R-06-2)
WMATA does not plan to do a heavy overhaul on the 1000 Series, Rohr railcars. Instead WMATA plans to replace these railcars with the 7000 Series railcars on which design has already started. WMATA is constrained by tax advantage leases, which require that WMATA keep the 1000 Series cars in service at least until the end of 2014. The 296 Rohr railcars make up over a third of WMATA’s current rail fleet and have performed well for over thirty years. The railcars will be replaced around 2014. Current Situation: All WMATA rail cars are fitted with anti-climbers on the end of the cars. These are designed to engage during a collision and to reduce the tendency for one car to climb over the other. The newer 6000 design, while retaining the anti-climber feature, has included additional energy absorption in the front end of the car. That absorbs energy as its deforms and collapses in a higher speed collision. This type of design will be used on future procurements.
In view of WMATA’s response to the Board’s recommendation, it appears that further dialogue on this issue would prove futile. Consequently, we have no choice but to classify Safety Recommendation R-06-2 Closed Unacceptable Action.
Of course this is all irrelevent to the fact that one train crashed into another. That, of course, should never have happened. However, the fact that WMATA had been warned about such horrific potential in the event of a crash is unbelievable.
From the NTSB back in 2006:
"The failure to have minimum crashworthiness standards for preventing telescoping of rail transit cars in collisions places an unnecessary risk on passengers and crew."
As of last night, WMATA Chief John Catoe found no reason to suspend the use of the Series 1000 railcars.
Some type of system failure occurred to allow these two trains to collide. Operator error was most likely involved as well (witnesses say train did not attempt to stop before collision). HOWEVER, WMATA ignored NTSB suggestions for years that could have minimized the number of injuries and fatalities. Yes, Metro is low on funds and retrofitting cars is expensive. This is true. However, that's not a reason to run a system that is unsafe. Shut the damn thing down if it's not safe.
John Catoe should submit his resignation by the end of the day or be fired.