As its investigation of the smoke and electrical arcing accident in a tunnel near the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station on January 12 continues, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking at another smoke and electrical arcing event that occurred in February.

On Feb. 11, 2015, at approximately 1:39 p.m. ET, the operator of a WMATA Orange Line train, traveling from Court House Station to Rosslyn Station, reported smoke in the tunnel as it approached Rosslyn. The train operator was instructed to reverse ends and move the train back to Court House Station, which did occur. All smoke was cleared by 2:50 p.m. and normal train service was resumed. There were no injuries as a result of the incident.

On the day of the incident, the NTSB responded to the location. Upon arrival at 4:10 p.m., investigators noted no remaining smoke and that normal service had resumed in the WMATA Court House Station.

On February 11, the NTSB requested that WMATA deliver the electrical components from the Court House incident to the NTSB materials laboratory for examination. These components were received on February 19.

NTSB investigators accompanied WMATA personnel on site visits to the location of the Court House incident where additional electrical components were identified for further examination. Investigators requested that those components be sent to the NTSB.

Upon delivery of the requested components, the NTSB will examine the evidence in an attempt to determine the failure mode and see if there are similarities with the January 12, L’Enfant Plaza Station accident.

Ongoing work by the NTSB on the L’Enfant Plaza accident investigation includes the following:

  • Constructing a detailed timeline of the emergency response efforts of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the DC Office of Unified Communications, and WMATA.
  • Examining the complexities of the radio systems with a focus on interoperability between WMATA and first responders.
  • Reviewing control operator training programs to assess preparedness to respond in emergency situations.
  • Testing the train ventilation systems and reviewing associated procedures.

As previously announced, the NTSB will hold a fact-finding hearing in Washington on June 23 to 24 to further explore the range of issues involved in this investigation. For Information on the hearing and other related resources, click here.

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