The photo below shows fairly typical working conditions in many of the tunnels.
I addition to dodging trains and avoiding the third rail, ATC technicians are expected to work on equipment that is surrounded by water and mud of unknown origin.
In order to remove this impedance bond, techs must kneel down in the mud and reach under the plate it is mounted to to loosen the mounting hardware which is likely corroded and very difficult to remove.
Mud and water are good conductors of electricity which makes this job even more hazardous than usual. If a wrench or a person’s hand or foot slips, they may fall into the third rail, which is almost always ‘live’ – it carries 750 volts (Vdc) and will kill instantly upon contact – especially when standing in water and mud.
These are ‘Third World’ working conditions.
There are numerous drains throughout the system that do not work but no one cares because clogged drains don’t affect train movement – until a section of track floods and the water reaches the third rail and begins to boil. Then the command decision is made to do something. Sometimes they even attempt to fix the problem sooner — when the water gets above the ‘ball’ (top) of the running rails. Not exactly what you’d call proactive.
Excessive water and mud also cause track circuits to ‘go down’ (show false occupancy) which causes massive delays and inconveniences thousands of people but hey, what are you gonna do? Maybe when pipes and pumps are invented they’ll take care of it.
Management decided to replace the interlocking at Medical Center (A10) due to excessive corrosion. Unfortunately they did the retrofit (at a cost of $millions) before stopping any of the leaks and now the new tracks and equipment are badly corroded after just a few years. Oh well, it’s only Metro money. Weeee!! Millions wasted due to incompetence. Does anyone care? Of course not! They work for the 51st State! They’re untouchables.
Maybe if the people who make these decisions had to actually go wayside (out on the tracks) and fix the resulting problems things would change.
Nah, that’s crazy talk.