- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2000

Metro Thursday said the steel door that a subway train ran over Tuesday night most likely was not latched properly onto its frame, causing it to flap as trains rushed by before finally being blown off its hinges onto the tracks.
The door became entangled in the train's wheels on the Green Line between the College Park and Prince George's Plaza stations, sparking a small fire that sent three passengers to a hospital for smoke inhalation.
Metro safety chief Fred Goodine yesterday said air pressure from passing trains forced the door off its frame, which also was pulled from the concrete wall of the 7-year-old tunnel and fell on the tracks.
"It would be like a piece of paper hitting the train," Mr. Goodine said of the door's impact on the train. "It did not derail the train."
Mr. Goodine said the door and its frame, which were recessed in the tunnel's concrete wall, were part of a vent shaft.
Metro investigators had been concerned that the door should have been in the shop for repairs.
Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said that wasn't necessarily the case.
"There was no outstanding work order," he said.
Metro workers now are looking at every nook and cranny in the tunnels to ensure there aren't any more faulty doors or gates in the tunnel, Mr. Goodine said.
"In the past 48 hours we've been exploring every possible door," he said. "We'll take a look historically at [maintenance] reports."
The incident occurred a day before a nine-member peer-review panel looking into Metro's safety policies ended its discussions. But Mr. Goodine said the timing couldn't have been better, noting that the transit agency is formulating its Emergency Facilities Action Plan to ensure the safety of the 24-year-old system.
Mr. Goodine said he and his staff are looking at nearly every aspect of the system's infrastructure by taking an inventory of items such as catwalks and steam pipes.
Greg Hull, the review panel's chairman and operations, safety and security programs manager at the American Public Transportation Association, said Metro is in a transition and needs to adjust for its growth.
He said the system's recent problems are learning opportunities.
"They use them as cues. As a system is new, you have a lot of things under warranty," Mr. Hull said. "As systems age, over time with the thousands and thousands of different movements you have to look at preventive maintenance programs and beef up the daily, weekly and yearly operations."
In addition to evaluating Metro's aging infrastructure, the panel also has recommended better emergency training and simulations for Metro employees, Mr. Hull said.
One of the panel's proposals Metro is considering is a system that would rate the severity of fire incidents, said Mr. Goodine. "Right now you just have a fire, regardless of the severity."
Mr. Hull said a layering system that codes the fire's seriousness would help Metro controllers communicate better with local fire departments. "It puts them in a better situation to advise emergency personnel," he said. "They'll all be in sync."

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