D.C. Metro board 'outraged' track defect detected early, not fixed

Posted on August 14, 2015

Larry Levine
Larry Levine

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) found that the track defect that caused last week’s derailment was detected months ago, but was never repaired, The Washington Post reported.

In addition, the flaw’s detection should have triggered the immediate shutdown of the section of rail involved, but the agency continued to run trains through it until the derailment. Metro’s interim GM, Jack Requa, said the agency’s inability to address the matter — from the top ranks down to the track laborers and inspectors — is unacceptable.

The derailment, which happened before passengers started boarding the train on Aug. 6, shut down rail service on parts of three lines for nine hours, leaving thousands of commuters fuming as they scrambled for alternative transportation. For the full story, click here.

The following statement was issued Thursday by Metro's Board of Directors:

“The Board is outraged and dismayed that anyone working at Metro would have critical safety information and not act on it immediately. It is totally unacceptable that the wide gauge track problem reported yesterday by the General Manager could go unaddressed and unrepaired for four weeks. This is a breakdown of the organization’s chain of command and our safety culture. We obviously have much work ahead of us to improve the organization’s safety culture, and we will do so,” said Metro Safety Committee Chair Michael Goldman, speaking on behalf of the Board. “However, Jack Requa’s transparent release of information, as well as his actions to order immediate track inspections and gather information to hold people accountable at every level, is what the Board expects and what the circumstances demand.

“The Board has directed the General Manager to complete his operational investigation within 10 days that will explain to the Board and our riders how this track deficiency went unrepaired for so long. The Board looks forward to learning how the chain of command broke down and where the responsibility lies.  This is an unforgivable breach of safety that needs to be dealt with firmly and swiftly.”

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