- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Metro will implement weather-dictated speed limits and faster emergency response times in response to this month’s heat-related incidents at College Park and West Hyattsville.

“What we’re trying to establish here is a baseline philosophy of what we need to do as we’re moving forward,” said Dave Kubicek, deputy general manager of operations for Metro, during Thursday’s Safety and Security Committee meeting.

A train derailed after tracks bent out of shape in the heat July 6 near the West Hyattsville station. Though examined the day before as part of a routine inspection, 1,300 feet of track was affected by the “heat kink.”

The rail car was traveling faster than 50 mph, but speed did not cause the derailment, Mr. Kubicek said.

Numerous trains traveling at high speeds can add up to damage to rails in extreme heat, he said.

A baseline speed in the 30 to 45 mph range will likely be established to alleviate that impact.

At the same time as the derailment, Mr. Kubicek said, there were at least four other known problems, some mechanical and some heat-related, that demanded Metro’s attention and resources.

The train derailed at 4:47 p.m. Officials were notified immediately after and a supervised evacuation began at 5:24 p.m.

In comparison, nearly 200 customers took it upon themselves to evacuate a train 30 minutes after it lost power and stopped on the tracks July 3 near the College Park station.

Customers, the operator and other officials did not communicate well after the train stopped, Mr. Kubicek said.

Board members were concerned it took an hour before a supervised evacuation was completed for the 120 customers who waited on the train.

An organized evacuation response was delayed by many problems, including a powerless radio tower and waiting too long to call officials , Mr. Kubicek said.

Metro police arrived at the station 25 minutes after the train reported an emergency.

To speed response time in future incidents, Mr. Kubicek said Metro officials will contact additional help within five minutes instead of allowing time for the train to recover.

Mr. Kubicek said he is challenging his staff to re-evaluate standard responses to situations.

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