Monday, June 22, 2009

DC Metro train collision - a regular rider's perspective

As you all probably know, there was a 2 train crash today at 5PM on the Washington DC Metro. Two trains travelling the same direction on the Red line (into DC at the Fort Totten station) ran into each other. The first train was sitting waiting for a preceeding train to clear the platform, and was rearended by another train, at speed. Local News coverage has been extensive, and two cars of the impacting train are still sitting on top of the impacted train. NTSB is on scene, as is DC FIre and Rescue and a host of other rescue personnell (over 200 at last count). At the 8PM press conference, there were 6 confirmed dead, and between 70 and 100 injured.

From a railroad operations perspective, this is a tough location for an accident. In that area Metro runs between the two CSX tracks, and so outside of the Metro track there are CSX, MARC and Amtrak trains running in both directions (between 18 and 24 trains daily). CSX has already announced a suspension of service, and I suspect Amtrak and MARC will have to follow suit.

I ride these trains daily. Had I not been working late on some Congressional questions regarding our 2010 budget request, I might well have been on one of those trains. Many of my colleagues and friends were. Thankfully, we know of only one injury, and she is already home, though sore and bruised.

As you go about your work for the next few days, I would ask that you take a moment and remember both the folks killed and injured today, and all those killed in previous train incidents. Rail transport of goods and people is extremely safe, whish makes these incidents all the more intense when they do happen.

Your local news outlets will no doubt have more coverage in the next few days, though I'll be happy to provide information if folks want.

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