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Metro wants to return automation to trains

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When you hop on Metrorail, the operator has complete control of the train, but the transit agency is hoping to bring back more automation.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority at one time used automation to operate trains, but pulled the system after the 2009 Red Line crash at Fort Totten that killed nine riders. Since then, operators have manually stopped and started trains.

WMATA now wants to automate that process as well as implement automatic doors.

The transit agency in a report, said returning to automation would lead to an increase in safety because currently human factors are the leading cause of trains running red lights on tracks.  

Metro said safety concerns after the 2009 crash have all been addressed, including the faulty track circuits that failed to show the stopped train on the tracks ahead before the second slammed into it going nearly full speed.

The report said automation will increase train reliability and reduce maintenance costs.

If approved by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, the transit authority would begin automation testing on the Red Line in the spring.