Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Silver Line Not Open Yet, But MWAA Looking For $1.8 Million in Upgrades, RestonNow, April 15, 2014

Karen Goff, RestonNow, writes about MWAA's plan to let a sole-source contract to improve the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system on the Silver Line, specifically the Horton Remote Terminal Units (RTUs).  The contract would be with Alstom, the company that has for years built ATC systems and modules that have failed.  Here are some highlights from the article:
Metro’s Silver Line has not yet opened, but the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) is already seeking a $1.8 million technology upgrade of the Automatic Train Control system. . .
Alstom previously installed the Horton Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) as part of the design of the Automatic Train Control System. That system is used throughout the existing Metro system, MWAA says.
But in testing the system for the Silver Line, the RTUs have proven faulty.
“The Horton RTUs have proven unreliable in the Phase 1 application,” MWAA documents read. “Increased reliability can be achieved by incorporating the use of integral circuit boards in the Alstom Vital Processor Interlock (VPI) instead of using RTU equipment.”
“This is a reliability issue, not a safety issue,” the documents read. “The technology upgrade will take one year to complete.” . . .
Say WHAT?  Let's see what the NTSB accident report on the 2009 Metrorail Red Line accident says:

 
 

The "track circuit modules" described here are the RTUs.  But let's look more specifically at what happened in the accident as described by the NTSB:

 
 
In the absence of a detailed specific explanation by MWAA of why continually failing Alstom RTUs in the line's ATC system are NOT a safety issue, who do you believe--MWAA or the NTSB???  How much credibility does MWAA have on anything it says given its scheduling delays, etc?

Restonians want--and deserve--a Silver Line that is BOTH RELIABLE AND SAFE.  At this point, it would appear that MWAA will be willing to sign off on one that is neither. 

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