Railroad News

Tragedy in D.C. – Derailment kills 9

A tragic crash occurred yesterday as a Metro passenger train in Washington, D.C. ran into another train at high speeds. As of now, substantial facts are of yet to be reported – the rail cars were not outfitted with recording technology which would have recorded the speed of the train and any mechanical failures. For now, however, officials do not think that mechanical failure was the problem. The rear train rammed full speed into a stopped train in between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations in D.C. quite possibly due to operator inattention, although the investigation may take some time before it yields any definitive conclusions.

The tragic loss of life here is indeed the biggest concern, alongside the 70+ passengers who were injured in the devastating crash. Another concern now being raised, however, is the fact that such a crash could occur at all – Metro’s safety systems should be far advanced enough to have automatically stopped the train. However, the train which caused the crash is one of Metro’s old models, which the National Transportation Safety Board had previously recommended be scrapped or outfitted with newer safety technology. These series of railcars have not been scrapped or upgraded against the advice of the NTSB.

One pressing question, then, is whether or not the “recommendations” of the NTSB need some degree of legal power (or at least, more bully power) to force rail companies to take them seriously. Perhaps if Metro had, this event never could have occurred. As the investigation continues, perhaps more light will be shed on this devastating crash and the reason that so many have suffered loss.