Metro mandated to install protective chain barriers between railcars

Metro riders will see a new safety measure added before the year’s end.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority must add chain barriers between all railcars after a blind passenger fell on the train tracks through a gap between two cars last month, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The Federal Transit Administration mandated that Metro officials add the barriers in addition to existing rubber barriers by Dec. 31. If WMATA does not add the new safety devices, it will risk losing 25 percent of federal funding, The Post reported.

In a letter sent to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld last week, the FTA said WMATA must develop a plan to complete the project by the deadline and share it with the group by Friday.

The FTA found that the Metro “does not provide adequate warning for passengers with visual impairments, and creates an unsafe condition that poses a substantial risk of death or personal injury,” according to the letter.

WMATA officials said the current design is in compliance with all applicable law, but they will add the additional safety barriers to all cars, The Post reported.

Some Metro railcars are already outfitted with chain barriers, but the newer 7000-series railcars, which were first rolled out in 2015, have stiff rubber barriers that leave about nine inches of space between the edge of the platform and the cars, The Post reported.

The letter also states that WMATA may not add any new cars to its system without chain barriers installed.

A visually impaired passenger fell on the tracks last month when she was searching for the train car door at the Van Ness-UDC station. The woman sustained minor injuries.

While WMATA is in the process of adding the barriers, officials said they have been warning passengers with visual disabilities to tap on the floor of the train with their canes prior to boarding, The Post reported.

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