Some Employees Falsified Track Inspection Records; 6 Fired, Metro Says

Six Metro employees have been fired after the investigation into the July 2016 derailment of a Metro train revealed that some employees falsified track inspection records.

At least one person was hurt when two rail cars on an Orange Line train jolted off the tracks at a crossover point near the East Falls Church Metro station and derailed.

An internal review of the incident revealed that certain employees in the track department falsified track inspection records, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement Thursday. 

Wiedefeld said the review "revealed a disturbing level of indifference, lack of accountability, and flagrant misconduct in a portion of Metro's track department."

Seventy-five people were on board the westbound Silver Line train July 29 when the fourth and fifth cars of the six-car train collapsed in the middle and jolted off the tracks. The train was about 100 feet east of the East Falls Church station.

In a preliminary report about the incident, the NTSB said the tracks where the train derailed were in "severe" disrepair. The distance between the tracks in the area was nearly two inches wider than the standard set by Metro, according to the NTSB.

Investigators also noted a "severe defective tie condition" in the area where the train derailed, and more than 30 feet of track had defective rail ties.

Four track inspectors and two supervisors were fired after the derailment. Six more track inspectors could be fired or face unpaid suspension. Another 10 are facing possible disciplinary action pending the outcome of the administrative process. 

Wiedefeld said the issue of falsifying records gets down to a systemic, cultural issue that needs to be changed at Metro. 

No one has been charged with any crime, but the investigation into the incident is ongoing. 

"While no arrests were made, prosecutors were briefed on the findings and are taking the matter under advisement," Wiedefeld said in a statement Thursday. 

Wiedefeld said the events that led up to the derailment were "completely intolerable."

Jackie Jeter, the head of Metro's largest union, says the union will "probably" fight the disciplinary actions. 

"As a union, it is our job to represent the employees. And that's what we will do," Jeter said.

In addition to the disciplinary action, Metro says every interlocking was inspected, six FRA-trained outside track inspectors were embedded to improve Metro's inspection process and the track inspection manual is being rewritten. 

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