Two Metro Workers Killed in Latest Track Accident

January 27, 2010

Two Metro workers were struck and killed by a maintenance vehicle along a track Tuesday, the latest in a string of fatalities since last year in the Washington D.C. area’s transit system.

The men were on a track when they were hit a few blocks from the Rockville Metro Station, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia said. One worker died at the scene and the other on the way to a hospital, Metro officials said.

Both men were automatic train technicians and the crash involved a large truck equipped to drive on the track when electricity is shut down, according to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates. The agency said it would release the men’s names after their families were notified.

The Metro system, which extends into the suburbs to link the capital with neighboring areas of Maryland and Virginia, has seen a series of fatal accidents and mishaps since last year. The worst was a June crash that killed eight passengers and the train operator. Two other workers were killed in separate accidents last year.

Last month, a team of inspectors were nearly hit by a train that Metro officials say was traveling too fast. Three workers were hurt in November when a train returning to a northern Virginia rail yard hit a parked train.

Tuesday’s deaths occurred at about 1:45 a.m. while the system was closed. The accident disrupted the morning rush for many commuters from Maryland as red line service was shut down between the Shady Grove and Twinbrook stations while the crash was investigated. Shuttles service was being provided between the stations.

The employees who were killed were installing new automatic train control equipment in the track bed. A failure in the automatic train control system, which detects the presence of a train on the track, is believed to have contributed to the June crash. However, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the work being done Tuesday morning was routine maintenance.

In addition to the string of accidents, Metro faces an uncertain budget picture and will likely have to raise fares or cut service. The agency’s general manager, John Catoe, unexpectedly announced his resignation earlier this month. Catoe joined the agency three years ago, pledging to make safety the No. 1 priority. His last day will be April 2.

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