TriMet announces findings after MAX trains drive through flood w - KPTV - FOX 12

TriMet announces findings after MAX trains drive through flood waters

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

TriMet says they’d never encountered flooding like the high water levels that covered tracks on Halloween and agency officials promise to do a better job during the next storm.

“Our big fear is always snow and ice, not water,” said Robert Nelson, the deputy general manager. “It wasn’t the rain. It was the level of water at certain areas, those were new circumstances for us. We made some poor decisions. We reviewed those and made sure everybody’s on the right page now.”

Flooded tracks forced TriMet to stop service on Oct. 31, but not before water damaged nearly a dozen trains.

One passenger recorded cell phone video of several inches of water flooding one of the trains.

On Wednesday, TriMet announced their internal review concluded they need to improve communications, protocols and procedures.

The agency outlined 12 short-term steps they can take to prevent this from happening again, as well as three longer-term action items, including an assessment of training, field operations and the Operations Command Center structure.

On Halloween, an order was issued telling operators to slow 10 mph and proceed with caution if they encounter standing water on the tracks.

Nelson said the internal review uncovered discrepancies in procedures about what to do when there is standing water on the tracks, so they are issuing new guidance.

Now, operators should stop if they encounter more than two inches of water on the tracks and wait for a supervisor to assess the situation in person.

If there’s less than two inches of water on the tracks, operators are instructed to slow to a “walking speed,” said Nelson.

The agency is still working out how operators will determine how high the water is on the tracks.

Nelson said there’s also a need for better communication.

On Halloween, a manager instructed MAX operators to drive their trains through standing water, according to Shirley Block, president of the union representing the operators.

“We haven’t looked at this whole review from the perspective of finding fault, but understanding that we had imprecise and conflicting info out there,” Nelson said. “So the obligation from me and my team is to fix that.”

Another storm that might bring heavy rains could hit Portland this weekend, so TriMet staff will be closely monitoring water levels, according to a spokeswoman.

She also said extra staff members will be working to ensure better communication during the storm.

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