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Train Operators Blamed for Doors Problem

Lena H. Sun reports in today's Post on the problem you readers alerted us to concerning the train doors opening in tunnels.

In the two incidents this week and last at Rosslyn Station and in other incidents, the transit authority says the operators are simply forgetting that the train is eight cars long. An eight-car train must pull up to the very front of the platform to get all the cars in the stations.

Here's another letter I got about this week's incident at Rosslyn.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I was pleased to see some attention paid in your April 21 blog post about an incident where the doors of the last car in an 8-car Metro train opened while the car was still in the tunnel at Rosslyn.

I was on that train and it was rather disturbing. I complained to Metro and got a good response, but this morning the exact same incident occurred. Again, it involved the last car of an 8-car train, and while we were stuck in the Rosslyn tunnel, the doors opened revealing a large gap and a blank wall.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was disturbing, more so since I had experienced the same type of incident so recently.

If I have personally experienced this twice, I have to wonder how common of an occurrence it is. I do not know if it was the same driver or not, but I am wondering what sort of steps Metro is taking to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Austin Fulk

It's not common, but it's happening way too often, considering the danger to passengers. It was not the same operator in the two Rosslyn incidents. They get placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigations. As Lena says in her story, operators can be fired or suspended following the investigations.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 2, 2008; 8:56 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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According to the article, 6-car trains run on automatic, but 8-car trains do not.

ATTENTION IDIOT TRAIN DRIVERS: If you are not on automatic, you are probably driving an 8-car train. PULL FORWARD before someone falls out onto the third rail and dies.

Posted by: Bob | May 2, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

If 6-car trains run on automatic, what's the deal with them lurching ahead a few feet at a time after they're actually at the platform? Clearly even the automatic systems don't work.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Drivers forgetting they're driving 8-car I have a Post-It Note pad to distribute to Metro to give to their drivers if Metro is that cash-strapped. What bothers me is if they're forgetting something as minimal as that, what ELSE are they neglecting to do/follow? I'm not worried about adults falling onto the third rail. They should know better. But I am worried about the physically/mentally disabled and CHILDREN who may ride alone who might not expect that Metro would do something this stupid...and walk on through the doors. Blind people especially. The level of incompetence is mindboggling at Metro. Can't they at least hire people with a memory longer than one minute??

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 2, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of this could be alleviated if the trains pulled up to the very front of the station each and every single time they pull in, regardless of how long the train is. If they do this, the end of the train can't possibly be outside the station!

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 2, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh and one more thing. If I ever am on a train that opens the doors in the middle of the tunnel, I'm walking over to the intercom, pushing the red button, and saying, "Yer fired!", Donald Trump style!

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 2, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I posted a similar response to another WMATA blog last week:
I think an easy solution would be for operators to assume all consists are 8 car. This would mean the 6 car train would be forward one car that could be easily handled by the on platform passengers!
I see someone else here thinks this also.

Also, the real problem are the blind passengers that are not warned by other riders of the doors being opened off platform. God knows Metro has killed or had deaths of enough blind passengers! I do not know what a seeing eye dog would do?

Metro central control likely does not know when this happens! Yrs ago I was on a consist that opened a front door off platform. I reported it & the operator denied it! Central could not resolve the issue by theircdata then & not likely now.

Posted by: Lightning | May 5, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Another idea on this;
If the operator does not know the rear doors opened off the platform, how will they know someone has fallen or steped out?
If the passengers are also not informing the operator in time, this will likely be the for a passenger out the open door! Assuming all this, how can Metro claim they have a procedure to handle/react to this situation (if they really claim they do!)?

Posted by: Lightning | May 5, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"I reported it & the operator denied it!"

Exactly why I said to pull the emergency brake so the train can't be moved and evidence of the crime is preserved!

Posted by: Metro sux | May 5, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I need to add another incident with the doors. This morning, May 7, at 9:17am at the Gallery Place station, the train coming from Shady Grove stopped in the usual spot, then moved, so that part of the first car was in the tunnel. The doors in the first car where I was waiting to get off would not open. The passengers went through the door connecting to the second car to get off. Not a recommended solution, I believe. The train operator had to deliberately move the train so that it was partly in the tunnel. Why on earth would he/she do that?

Posted by: Bethesda | May 7, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the driver was doing unspeakable things in the front and didn't want to be seen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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