Subject Matter Expert: Signals and Automatic Train Control


The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC)


The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) is the designated State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) responsible for overseeing the safety of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system, which operates rail transit in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The WMSC is responsible for implementing an effective oversight program in compliance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 674, and other applicable regulations. WMSC duties span a wide range of daily, periodic, annual, and triennial oversight activities. The WMSC is responsible for conducting a robust complement of observations, event investigations, inspections, special studies, and audits at WMATA, all with a focus on maintaining and enhancing the safety of customers, employees, infrastructure, and assets. The WMSC will promulgate safety standards and requirements for the Metrorail System and has the authority to take swift and decisive action to address non-compliance or any hazardous conditions.

Position Overview

The WMSC is recruiting for a subject matter expert to serve as its expert for inspecting, auditing, and investigating the WMATA Metrorail signal, automatic train control, and radio communications systems. This recruitment is open to anyone who meets the required qualifications listed below. The selected candidate will serve under the leadership of the WMSC Executive Director and will report to the Chief Operating Officer (COO).

The selected candidate will ensure a commitment to effective safety oversight program administration through direct leadership, establishing working relationships with WMATA personnel, coordinating with a team of skilled and qualified team WMSC members, and applying technical expertise to promote rail transit safety.  The incumbent must have sufficient knowledge of industry best practices and benchmarks to effectively and collaboratively monitor and evaluate the changes recommended or underway at the WMATA Metrorail system, and to develop recommendations for continued safety improvements.

Responsibilities and Duties

− Planning and carrying out an itinerary of periodic field inspections of Metrorail system signal and train control systems to ensure that they are properly installed, operated, tested, and maintained.

− Auditing technical elements of the Metrorail system related to signals and train control operations, inspection, and maintenance, and Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) activities.

− Verifying and ensuring WMATA’s compliance with its own signals and train control maintenance and inspection policies and procedures, WMSC requirements, and industry best practices.

− Investigating allegations of hazardous conditions or non-compliance from WMATA employees, government officials, and the general public regarding unsafe signals and train control system conditions (e.g. signal overruns, false proceeds, activation failures).

− Participating in investigations of Metrorail events and development of independent WMSC investigation reports.

− Developing audit and inspection reports that communicate technical information to a wide audience.

− Reviewing WMATA Metrorail event (accidents, incidents, and occurrences as defined by 49 CFR 674) investigation reports from a technical standpoint.

− Reviewing, interpreting, and conducting trend analysis of Metrorail signals and train control system fault codes and maintenance-related information.

− Coordinating with multiple WMATA departments to schedule routine activities and special audits.

− Advising the WMSC and Chief Executive Officer on technical matters pursuant to signals and train control systems.

  • Develop, review and maintain corrective action plans (CAP) issued to WMATA pertinent to ATC.



A minimum of 5 years of progressively increasing responsibility in management of rail transit or railroad signals and train control system maintenance, inspection, and supervision, with reporting to executive management, is required.

Knowledge and familiarity of applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations is required, including industry best practices and standards such as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA).

Prior experience with rail transit or SSOA is preferred.


A Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related technical specialization is required.

Residency Requirement

Given the frequency of site visits to the WMATA Metrorail system by WMSC personnel, including the need to respond quickly to an event scene, the incumbent for this position must live within 20 miles of any Metrorail station.

Physical Requirements

WMSC inspection, audit, and investigation work requires the person in this position to possess the ability to move for long periods on potentially rocky and uneven surfaces along rail right-of-way, rail yards, and maintenance facilities on an occasional basis. The work requires the ability to position oneself to take measurements, ascend/descend ladders, narrow staircases, and rail and maintenance vehicles.

Successful applicants must be able to detect and observe sufficiently to perform core inspection functions of the discipline and remain safe along the Metrorail System.

The Signals Subject Matter Expert must meet color visions requirements as described in the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) criteria for vision acuity in 49 CFR 240.121.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Work may take place at any time of day as warranted by emergency conditions or scheduled inspections (e.g. responding to a Metrorail event or conducting observations of overnight maintenance work).

Work may take place on or about WMATA property where WMSC personnel must be alert at all times for the approach of trains or rolling equipment, slips/trips/fall hazards, and hazardous materials.

While on-site, WMSC personnel must also take precautions with electrical hazards associated with revenue and non-revenue vehicles and equipment, the third rail, and other traction power equipment throughout the Metrorail System.

WMSC personnel may be exposed to unfavorable weather conditions, including temperature extremes and precipitation, and other environmental discomforts such as insects and vegetation on or about rail property.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required for specific job functions. All WMSC personnel will comply with WMATA requirements for PPE as applicable to the circumstances, as well as with applicable industry standards.


All WMSC staff positions require possession of a valid driver’s license.

The Signals Subject Matter Expert is required to obtain and maintain the Transit Safety and Security Program (TSSP) Certificate and complete the Safety Management System Training component required by the FTA’s Safety Certification Training Program final provisions.

Certifications from AREMA, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), World Safety Organization (WSO), or a Professional Engineer (PE) license are strongly preferred.


The ideal candidate will possess the abilities and skills to:

− Understand and detect deviations from:

  • Signals and train control maintenance standards accepted in the industry;
  • WMATA signals and train control standards and Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP);
  • APTA Fixed Structures Inspection and Maintenance Standards, including Signals and Communications Standards.

− Examine plans and records to make inspections of signals and train control systems and to determine adequacy of stopping distances from prescribed speeds.

− Understand the safety significance of deviations and combination of deviations.

− Determine and effectively communicate the remedial action required to bring signal and train control systems into compliance with the standards.

− Analyze and interpret SCADA systems and troubleshoot faults.

− Convey safety significance and technical knowledge to a wide audience of internal and external policymakers and senior managers.

− Convey specialized knowledge of proper remedial action to be taken in order to bring defective signals and train control systems into compliance with applicable WMATA, WMSC, or other standards.

− Conduct hazard assessments, root cause and fault tree analyses.

Technical Competencies

− Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

− Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principals involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

− Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

− Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

− English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

− Building and Construction — Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

− Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

− Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

− Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

Behavioral Competencies

− Independence — Develop one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

− Integrity – Approaches all tasks ethically and with honesty.

− Cooperation – Remain pleasant with others on the job and display a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

− Concern for Others – Sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

− Dependability — Consistently reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfills obligations.

− Attention to Detail – Cautious about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

− Self-Control — The ability to maintain composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

− Adaptability/Flexibility – The ability to be open to change (positive or negative) and to significant variety in the workplace.

− Stress Tolerance – Can accept criticism and deal calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

− Initiative – Has the willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

− Innovation – Possess creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

− Analytical Thinking – Has the ability to analyze information and use logic to address work-related issues and problems.

− Leadership — Has the willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

− Achievement/Effort — Establish and maintain personally challenging achievement goals and exert effort toward mastering tasks.

− Persistence – Practice persistence in the face of obstacles.


The WMSC is located at 777 North Capitol St., NE, #402, Washington, DC 20002 and is responsible for conducting SSOA activities for the WMATA Metrorail System across the D.C. metro region.


Salary is regionally competitive and will be commensurate with skills and experience.  Relocation assistance is available.


Position closing date is August 16, 2019

To apply for this position, interested candidates must submit a resume, cover letter (including salary requirements) and a completed employment application to

The employment application may be found at:  HERE. Only complete application packages will be considered.

Candidates are advised that WMSC requires several pre-employment checks including criminal background and drug screens and reference checks.  WMSC also uses E-Verify, about which more can be learned here:

Equal Opportunity Employer:  disability/veteran