Sources: Metro Boss Weighed Resigning If Trains Didn't Shut Down - NBC4 Washington

Sources: Metro Boss Weighed Resigning If Trains Didn't Shut Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Metro Boss Talks About Decision to Shut Down Trains

    Metro's general manager said he made the right choice in shutting down the entire Metrorail system for safety reasons. News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss spoke with Paul Wiedefeld. (Published Thursday, March 17, 2016)

    The general manager of Metro believed so strongly in shutting down Metrorail for an entire day so emergency repairs could be made that he was prepared to consider resigning if officials did not back his plan, sources tell News4.

    "It could be a short day for me," sources said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told his staff, saying he was prepared to consider walking away from Metro if he did not get support for his plan to close Metrorail for all of Wednesday.

    Asked on Thursday if he stood by his decision to freeze trains so crews could inspect 600 underground power cables, he replied, "I definitely did."

    He said correcting safety problems was his top priority.

    "I'm always thinking of it as my 16-year-old daughter riding the train, your children riding the train. That's how I think of this," he said.

    At least 26 third-rail cables inspected by Metro crews Wednesday needed to be repaired, officials said.

    The damage at three locations was so severe that those parts of the track were "showstoppers," where "we would not be running trains if we came upon these conditions," Wiedefeld said Wednesday.

    Frayed power cables are believed to have been the cause of a fire on the tracks early Monday and of an emergency in Jan. 2015, when smoke filled a Metro tunnel, dozens of passengers were sickened and one woman died.

    Wiedefeld said he refused to allow the system to stay open after he learned this week of huge problems with the system.

    "There were some serious issues out there," he said. "We should not have been running trains under those conditions."

    The Metro head said he still needs more information on why the Metrorail system was in such rough shape in the first place.

    Metro rider Michael Spatz said he supported Wiedefeld's decision to shut down Metrorail and even would back additional shutdowns if they are necessary.

    "I think the new general manager is making efforts to show that he's a tough guy and wants to make it better," he said.