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Wed Jun 24, 2020, 08:27 AM

After repeated safety incidents, Metro replaces its rail operations control director

After repeated safety incidents, Metro replaces its rail operations control director

TRANSIT By Stephen Repetski (Editorial Board Alum) June 23, 2020

WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has reassigned the leader of the agency’s rail control center and is beginning an external search for a new one, according to a staff notice issued on Monday and obtained by GGWash.

Another Metro director, with past experience in management and consulting, is being brought in to recommend changes to several aspects of the organization including its structure, training, processes, safety, and communication.

Metro’s shakeup at the Rail Operations Control Center, the rail equivalent of an air traffic control facility, comes just over a month after the independent Metrorail safety oversight commission (WMSC) issued a scathing document in which rail controllers told them management disregarded safety and even interfered with rail operations.

“We appreciate Metrorail’s step in the right direction,” said WMSC spokesperson Max Smith, “following our findings over the last seven months, to replace part of the management team with responsibilities for the Rail Operations Control Center.”

Before their latest report, the WMSC issued another back in December which found a “chaotic atmosphere in the ROCC” with “frequent yelling by personnel and conflicting instructions” as controllers tried to reverse a train away from a track fire and ended up restoring power to the tracks while firefighters were still on them.

Wiedefeld named Alison Hall-King, who oversees station and train staff on the Orange and Silver lines, as acting director of the ROCC while the agency performs a nation-wide search to fill the position.


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