Metro Making Several Changes In Wake Of Light-Rail Derailment

"Human error" caused a Metro train to derail just after midnight on June 16, according to Metro officials, but engineers from Arup, a firm hired to assist in the investigation, say that Metro needs to implement a safer lubrication system on the rails.

Pictures from the investigation, released by Metro at a press conference this afternoon, show gouge marks on
the concrete and rail along the stretch of track where the derailment occurred. Metro plans to test the track "to verify its structural integrity" with ultrasound, a yearly test that costs about $3,500.

Steve Clark, and engineer with Arup, says that these kinds of accidents don't happen very often, adding, "It's unusual for us to get involved in derailment investigations."

According to Clark, Metro manually lubricates the rails, which isn't the best method, especially on a sharp curve where this accident happened. Metro is negotiating with vendors to install "four state-of-the-art electro-mechanical" lubrication systems at several locations along the track, to be determined by Arup. Metro officials didn't have an estimate about how much the new system would cost.

The accident happened during a training run when the only passengers were a trainer and two trainees. The two-car train was heading south out of the Texas Medical Center when the driver accelerated too quickly out of a curve, causing the lead car to start wobbling on the track, according to Clark. When the train passed through a switch at Greenbriar Street, the lead car kicked a switch, causing the rear car to break free and cross over to the northbound tracks.

The stretch of track had three different speed limits at the time of the accident, but Metro has since implemented a 15 mph limit.

According to Reggie Mason, Metro's chief safety officer, the trainer who was driving the train during the accident will be suspended for two days and placed on a 90-day probation. He said the trainees won't be punished.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight