• Metro Knew About Track Problem A MONTH Before Derailment, Did Nothing

    A train derailed in Washington, D.C., last week because of a defective track. Officials at Metro knew about the problem in July, but failed to fix it.

    Metro’s interim general manager, Jack Requa, told reporters Wednesday that the flaw in the track should have forced an immediate closure of the rail, but the agency let trains run on it anyway, until the train derailed.

    “Let me not mince words: This is unacceptable,” Requa said at the Wednesday press conference. “It is unacceptable to me, and it should be unacceptable to everyone within the chain of command all the way down to the track laborers and track inspectors who are out on the front lines. We found this and should have addressed it earlier.”

    According to Requa, after he learned that the rail involved in last week’s derailment should have been fixed in July, he immediately called for emergency track inspections near the area of the incident.

    The derailment happened in the early morning, before any riders had boarded the train, and shut down service on three lines for approximately nine hours. The incident also shut down two different train stations while workers tried to get the train back on the tracks.

    The agency’s decision to keep running trains on the track even though officials were aware of the defect that could potentially cause a derailment drew sharp criticism from both local and national leaders.

    Rep. Gerald Connolly, whose district includes portions of Virginia serviced by Metro called the dysfunction at Metro a “cancer.”

    “The fact that Metro knew they had a track problem but did not address it is indefensible and does little to restore confidence in the system,” Connolly said in a statement. “The dysfunction at Metro is now a cancer that is spreading from top to bottom and that has profoundly eroded the public confidence in the ability of Metro to manage itself.”

    DC Councilman Jack Evans said he was “furious” at Metro for ignoring the problem and said the system has gone way downhill since he was a board member in 1999.

    “We’ve had serious accidents like the [Yellow Line] fatality, constant issues with the system, and now a problem that someone just ignored,” Evans said in a tweet.

    In 1982, a Metro train derailed in almost the exact same location between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations. The derailment led to the deaths of three people and injured 25.

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