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Here's when Metro wants to return to automatic train operation

Metro stopped using automation after a deadly Red Line crash in 2009.

WASHINGTON — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Metro are hoping to return to automated trains systemwide by the end of 2023, according to new findings that are expected to be presented to at Metro's Thursday board meeting.

Metro's train operators have manually stopped and started trains ever since a 2009 Red Line crash at Fort Totten that killed nine people, and injured 80 others. It was the deadliest crash in Metro history.

Metro says all safety concerns after that 2009 crash have been addressed. In Thursday's meeting, leaders are expected to give an update on the implementation of automation, known as Grade of Automation Level 2 (GoA2). According to the presentation, Metro requested a peer review of the system's readiness to bring automation back in November of last year. The review found that GoA2 is "on track to launch in December of 2023."

Metro leaders point to a 2013 case study that shows an increased reliability for trains that use the GoA2 system, rather than GoA1, which is what Metro trains have been using since the 2009 crash.

According to the study, which evaluated 52 metro lines across 16 transit systems, lines using GoA2 reported a 26% reduction in five-minute delay incidents associated with moving from GoA1 to GoA2.  

The presentation includes a timeline of actions moving forward to restore automation to all trains across the Metro transit system.

Credit: WMATA

In March 2023, Metro will partner with Safety and Readiness teams to perform a final rule change review. By May, the teams hope to develop a training curriculum. In April, the timeline expects the master schedule to be updated to incorporate employee training and safety certification on the GoA2 automation system. 

Integrated testing of GoA2 automation will begin on Red Line trains in April 2023, according to the timeline. The hope is to have all trains using GoA2 automation by December of 2023. 

The full presentation can be found below:

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