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Safety Board Calls For Tougher Light Rail Standards

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By Meymo Lyons

The National Transportation Safety Board says it wants standards for the crash-worthiness of transit cars. Saying it makes no sense for the federal government to regulate safety standards for railroad passenger cars but not for subway and light rail, the NTSB voted to add subway-car design to its list of "most wanted" safety improvements.

The board says standards should also address the ability of passengers to escape damaged cars in a crash and for rescue crews to access crushed cars after an accident.

Calls for improved subway car safety standards date back decades, but the board was not to be deterred today, citing stark differences in federal oversight of heavy-rail and light-rail systems, attention magnified by the Metro red line accident, last June, when two trains collided, one telescoping into the other. Nine passengers died, dozens of commuters were injured.

The NTSB will hold a three-day hearing on the Metro crash next week.

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