Washington Metro’s dangerous complicity

May 11, 2016

By The Editorial Board of The Washington Post

A YEAR ago, as federal investigators tried to unravel the smoke incident in a Metro subway tunnel that killed one passenger and sickened dozens of others, it emerged that the transit agency’s Rail Operations Control Center was riddled with problems ranging from inadequate training to antiquated computer software.Website Insert Cars and Financing copy

Now comes word that the same control center, based in Landover, failed to notice or take timely action Thursday after a fire and an explosion — yes, an explosion — on the tracks at the Federal Center SW station. Despite the fact that the fiery blast propelled metal and ceramic shrapnel onto the tracks and platform about two seconds after a train had left the station, Metro personnel at Federal Center SW shrugged off the incident and the control center did nothing for hours, even after inspectors requested a power shutdown so they could examine the damage.

For passengers wondering what it means that Metro’s “safety culture” is in tatters, last week’s incident at Federal Center SW is illustrative. It is also proof that the National Transportation Safety Board was not exaggerating when it criticized Metro last week for not having learned lessons from past accidents, including fatal ones.

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