Rail Cars in DC Metro Crash Should Have Been Replaced

Following the worst <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/train_accidents">crash in the Washington DC Metro’s 33-year history, it has been revealed that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made recommendations years ago that, said McClatchy Newspapers, were needed because of passenger vulnerability to “catastrophic damage” in the event of a crash. The collision killed nine and injured 80 people, some critically.

The NTSB recommended—three years ago—that the Metro replace the type of rail car that was involved in the historic crash because of the cars alleged vulnerabilities, said McClatchy Newspapers. Although some of the cars have been in operation over 30 years—since 1976, in some cases—the Metro kept the dangerous cars due to financial constraints, reported McClatchy Newspapers.

The collision occurred when one train stopped short of the Fort Totten station—near the Maryland border—and was rammed from behind by the second train, UPI said. The second train came to rest on top of the first, something that indicates it was traveling at a high rate of speed. The Los Angeles Times reported that the crash—which occurred during rush hour—took place at around 5:00 p.m. on the Metro’s Red Line, one of its busiest routes. McClatchy Newspapers noted that the first car of the six-car train that rammed into the second train was compressed to about one-third of its original size, “peeling away” its floor.

NTSB spokeswoman, Bridget Serchak, said that Metro’s not fixing or replacing its train cars was “unacceptable,” reported McClatchy Newspapers; Debbi Hersman, another NTSB spokeswoman concurred.

The striking train car was a 1000-series car, the model that the NTSB said—following a 2004 accident that injured 22—should be “immediately phased out or retrofitted” to better withstand a collision, said McClatchy Newspapers. The 1000-series is more than 30 years old and is, according to the NTSB in 2006, “vulnerable to catastrophic telescoping damage and complete loss of occupant survival space in a longitudinal end-structure collision …. The failure to have minimum crashworthiness standards for preventing telescoping of rail transit cars in collisions places an unnecessary risk on passengers and crew,” quoted McClatchy Newspapers.

According to a recent report in the Baltimore Sun, the NTSB has been a “persistent critic” of the Metro system for the last quarter century. After other incidents, the agency has criticized Metro for ignoring warnings from front-line managers, disregarding NTSB recommendations, and failing to learn from its mistakes. According to the Sun, after a fatal crash in 1996, the NTSB recommended that Metro reinforce its rail cars’ structure to prevent “telescoping” during a crash. But for eight years, Metro resisted the move, complaining it would be too expensive. The Metro system is not required to follow NTSB recommendations, the Sun said.

BART, San Francisco’s mass transit system also uses the decades-old cars made by Rohr Industries, the same maker of the cars involved in this week’s Metro crash, said McClatchy Papers, noting that BART announced it will be replacing its series-1000 cars.

In addition to this week’s and the 2004 accident, 1000-series rail cars were involved in a 1982 accident in which three people were killed, said McClatchy Papers. In the Metro’s 33-year history, there have been at least four other fatal accidents that have killed a total of seven people.

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