NTSB Seeks Safety Improvements As Victims’ Families Mark Metro Crash Anniversary

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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WASHINGTON D.C. (WJZ)– Nine dead, eighty injured. Three years ago today, the worst accident in Washington D.C. Metro history happened.

Alex DeMetrick has details on how the anniversary was marked.

It was a day of remembrance and critical appraisal of where safety stands aboard Metro trains.

A plaque naming the dead was placed over the crash scene in Northeast D.C.

“She was my cousin,” said the relative of one victim, one of nine people killed three years ago when two D.C. Metrorail trains collided.

A faulty track sensor stopped one train but allowed a second to keep moving. Despite the engineer hitting the emergency brakes, the crash injured another 80 and launched safety measures.

Victim’s families hope so.

“I’m pretty sure they’re working on it. Hopefully, it will get better,” said the relative of a victim.

And it has been.

Eight of 15 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations have been enacted. Among them, improved train detection procedures, a doubling of safety staff and upgraded track circuit modules.

But safety improvements now in place aren’t the only improvements still needed.

Stronger train cars better to absorb crashes are still on order. And incidents like doors opening on their own while trains are moving or parts of breaks falling off are fresh worries.

“Those events are very significant and Metro needs to pay attention to them because these are warning signs,” Deborah Hersman, chairperson of the NTSB, said.

For Metro and its riders.

Those stronger rail cars will cost Metro over $700 million. Three hundred of them are expected to arrive by late 2013.

According to the NTSB, Metro’s challenge is going from building a 106-mile system to maintaining one that’s aging.

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