Safety agency critical of DC Metro after fire, says some issues must be addressed in 30 days

News Wire Digest second section for May 13: MBTA plans nine-day shutdown on Lowell commuter line; work begins on next phase of Del Mar Bluffs project
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More Wednesday rail news:

— Washington D.C.’s Metro “has made little to no substantive progress” in addressing some problems revealed by a 2015 incident that killed one passenger and injured dozens of other at its L’Enfant Plaza station, according to the agency which oversees Metro safety. The Washington Post reports the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission issued three findings at a Tuesday meeting that the transit agency must address within 30 days: rail system controllers must be provided proper and recurring training on the use of emergency ventilation fans, and a playbook for its use that was called for by the National Transportation Safety Board after the 2015 incident; managers and leadership must be prophibited from remotely manipulating consoles in the control center and verify that such manipulation has ended; and additional measures must be instituted to ensure third-rail power is not prematurely reinstated after an incident. The findings are in response to a December 2019 incident in which arcing power sparked a fire, stopping service for about 75 minutes and leading one train to approach the fire before offloading all its passengers. It was one of two arcing incidents that day.

— The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will replace commuter trains with shuttle buses on a segment of its Lowell Line for nine days beginning May 16. The Lowell Sun reports the line will be shut down between Boston’s North Station and the Anderson/Woburn station; each scheduled train will be replaced by two shuttle buses — an express between North Station and Anderson/Woburn, and a local stopping at all stations except Mishawum. A two-day closure had previously been announced, but the additional seven days have been added as part of the MBTA’s effort to address some projects while ridership and road traffic are decreased because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Work has begun on the fourth stage of a six-part project to stabilize bluffs in Del Mar, Calif., to protect the rail line used by Coaster commuter trains and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner. The Del Mar Times reports the $6.8 million project, the latest in a series that began in 2003, will continue throughout the summer. It will include replacing a storm-water channel above the tracks, repairs and replacement of other drainage, and installing concrete-and-steel support columns known as “soldier piles” in the most unstable locations.

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