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Oversight group says WMATA has addressed train operator issues

The Washington Metropolitan Safety Commission recently claimed more than 50 WMATA train operators had not received the proper amount of training.

WASHINGTON — A safety oversight group said dozens of Metrorail operators have received required training after they were almost sidelined from their work two weeks ago.

On Jan. 13, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority revealed it had received an email from the Washington Metropolitan Safety Commission (WMSC) directing them to suspend certain train operators from running trains until certain actions had been taken.

WMSC said WMATA requires trained operator trainees to operate a train, on mainline tracks, for at least eight hours, without passengers on board, before they are permitted to operate a train with passengers.

However, WMSC said it learned 54 Metrorail operators had not received the required amount of training. The commission said, in December, Metro even certified an operator who had only received nine minutes of training.

WMSC’s order almost led WMATA to reduce service on the blue, orange, and silver lines from running trains every 15 minutes to every 25 minutes, but the commission eventually imposed a stay on its own directive through Tuesday.

WMSC’s commissioners and chief executive officer gathered for a meeting Tuesday.

WMSC CEO Dr. David Mayer suggested a mass suspension of Metrorail operators would no longer be needed.

He said the commission had received documents from WMATA Tuesday morning regarding the agency’s training practices.

“Metrorail stated this morning that 51 of those 54 operators who were placed into passenger service have now completed this instruction since the WMSC identified the safety issue,” Mayer said. “The remaining three operators are currently on leave.”

WMSC Commissioner Michael Rush then questioned Mayer as to what the information presented to the commission would ultimately mean.

“Based on our understanding of the information we received this morning, there’s no disagreement in respect to the training at this time.” Rush said.

Mayer said, while the commission still needed to review all the documentation provided by WMATA, he believed Rush’s statement was correct.

“Metro has told us they did not change their procedures and they have trained their operators to comport with those procedures,” he said.

A WMATA spokesperson also said the agency did not expect any major changes to its staffing following WMSC’s meeting.

“We continue to work with the WMSC as our safety partner as we improve service for our customers and the region,” a WMATA statement reads.

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