Metro fires train operator
Metro trains return to Farragut North following the Feb. 12 accident. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Metro has fired the train operator who was involved in the Feb.12 derailment of a six-car train at Farragut North.
The operator was terminated on March 11 "for failing to follow standard operating procedures," according to a Metro press release. The woman had worked for the agency since May 1976. She had been a rail operator since April 1999, Metro said. The first phase of Metrorail began operating in 1976.
In the incident, a Red Line train headed toward Shady Grove ended up on the wrong track and was automatically derailed by safety devices to prevent a possible collision with another train.
After leaving Farragut North, the train left the main track and went onto a short stretch of track, known as a pocket track, which is similar to a breakdown lane on a highway.
At the time, a Metro source who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, said controllers in Metro's downtown control center had set the switch to route the train onto the pocket track.
That source and another Metro source said the train operator had failed to stop at a red signal on the main track. According to procedure, the operator should have stopped and contacted the control center.
Once the train was on the pocket track, it stopped. It then began moving slowly toward a main track, and a pair of safety devices, known as derailers, "popped the wheels off the track" to prevent the train from going further, a Metro official said.
"It intentionally derailed the train for safety purposes to stop it from running a red light and prevented a collision," the official said.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator to the scene to take charge of the probe. The accident trapped about 345 pasengers underground for more than an hour. Three passengers were treated for minor inuries.
Metro did not release the name of the operator, who had been on administrative leave since the accident.
-- Staff Reports
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