By Steve Birr
Five D.C. Metro employees face disciplinary actions after they evacuated passengers next to a fully-energized, electrified third-rail following a recent “near miss” tunnel collision.
D.C. Metro officials released additional details of the nearly catastrophic July 5 “near miss” tunnel collision that cost a train operator their job. A train approaching the Glenmont Station ran a red signal, then entered a switch, which placed it on the same track as an oncoming train. Emergency personnel evacuated the train before officials de-energized the electrified third-rail, putting three passengers at risk of electrocution, reports WJLA.
Only three passengers were evacuated before officials cut power to the track and everyone involved avoided injury, but the newest revelations from the incident are bringing the actions of five employees under scrutiny.
“Control center personnel did not properly coordinate with transit police responding to the incident,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a staff memo Monday. “As a result of the communication gaps, three passengers aboard the train were evacuated before the third rail was safely de-energized.”
The five employees currently face disciplinary action that could lead to suspensions and demotions. Wiedefeld previously said the July 5 incident was a “near miss” collision that threatened the safety of passengers aboard both trains and workers in the tunnels. (RELATED: DC Metro Repairs Are Still Flouting Safety Standards, Ignoring Threats)
“The facts in this matter suggest a blatant disregard for safety that I find profoundly disturbing,” Wiedefeld said in a letter to employees obtain by WAMU. “We need to step back in this moment and understand what a fundamental change in safety culture requires of all of us. Safety is not a slogan. We hold the lives of people in our hands. Making a choice to ignore safety rules puts those lives at risk.”
Officials are already dealing with criticisms of the safety culture at the D.C. Metro after federal inspectors overseeing the plagued system found 109 safety issues and violations of worker policy during the first two rounds of SafeTrack repairs.