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Metro Holds Special Meeting on Safety After String of Issues

Metro's board of directors held a special meeting Thursday to talk about a string of recent issues including a July derailment on the Silver Line. 

D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, the Metro board's chairman, started the meeting by saying Metro has been negligent when dealing with safety issues. That has to stop, he said.

“I just want to say to everyone -- to the public, to the riders, the elected officials in this region, to everyone – that we are committed to fixing Metro,” Evans said.

He spoke of the victims who've died in Metro incidents.

“We had nine killed at Fort Totten, another last year, and still, here we are,” he said.

Evans called the meeting in the wake of problems including the Silver Line derailment near the East Falls Church station and a series of problematic findings from the Federal Transit Administration. 

The derailment was related to deteriorating rail ties, and the inspections were not done properly.

"I understand the accident is under criminal investigation now," said Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., who sat through the entire two-and-a-half-hour meeting. "I'm very please they moved quick on that. But I think what we need to have going forward and I think what they are trying to provide for us is the factual information."

The Federal Transit Administration found in a report earlier this month that Metro track inspectors are inadequately trained and pressed for time.

A second report discussed problems with trains running red signals 68 times between January 2012 and July.

“Why you as a train operator decide you don't have to obey red light signals is mindboggling to me,” one board member said.

The scathing 45-page report cited numerous reasons for the problem, which Metro safety officials said is being addressed.

A third report released Wednesday identified a "widespread lack of compliance" that allows trains and equipment to roll away. 

General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld is expected to answer questions from the board at the meeting.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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