DC Trains Keep ‘A Rollin’ Despite Computer Glitch

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) officials say they still don’t know what caused an information management system to go dark twice this past weekend; once on Saturday afternoon, and once early Sunday morning.

That system allows controllers in Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center to see where trains are located on a dynamic map, and to remotely control switches. During the system blackouts, train operators were advised by controllers to hold their position at the next station.

According to Metro:

All safety systems that keep trains properly spaced remained fully operational during both occurrences.  Train movement at all times was governed by wayside signals (essentially traffic lights alongside tracks), as well as speed commands transmitted to each train’s control cab. Radio communication between the control center and trains was maintained at all times.

But that doesn’t soothe the tempers of Metro riders already upset by a continuing series of operational issues affecting the subway system that serves the nation’s capital and surrounding areas. One of them is Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).

The Washington Post reports that Mikulski was highly critical of Metro’s operations during a press conference today about recent changes in federal laws that create uniform safety regulations for light rail and subway systems nationwide.

The Post also reports that Metro officials do not think that the weekend computer glitch was the result of a cyberattack, because the computers running the program that shut down were part of a closed, internal system, not attached to the internet.

The issue was just one of a series of events that have inconvenienced riders in the past month, including a poorly executed Green Line evacuation  near College Park on July 3, a Green Line derailment near Hyattsville on July 6, and a temporary shutdown of the DuPont Circle Station in Washington, DC yesterday.

A 2009 crash on the system’s Red Line killed 9 people, and injured 80 others.

No one was hurt this past weekend as a result of the mysterious computer glitch.


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