WASHINGTON — A train control system that should have prevented Monday's deadly commuter rail crash in Washington, D.C., failed in a test conducted by federal investigators, officials said Thursday, suggesting that a crucial breakdown of technology sent one train slamming into another.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board performed the simulation Wednesday night. In the test, investigators positioned a train in the same location as the train that was rear-ended in Monday's crash. The system failed to detect that the idled test train was there, the NTSB said. Investigators did not say what caused the malfunction, and they stopped short of saying the system failure caused the crash.
The test results are significant because they confirmed earlier findings of "anomalies" in an electrical track circuit in the crash area.
The findings suggest that the oncoming train in Monday's crash might not have received information that a train was stopped ahead. The stationary train was struck by a train operated by Jeanice McMillan. She and eight others were killed in the crash; 80 people were injured.