Virginia Congressman Requests Metro Inspector General Investigate Derailment

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Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly is formally requesting that Metro’s Inspector General look into problems with the 7000 series railcars linked to a derailment last month.

Connolly wants answers as to why Metro never revealed issues with the wheels on those railcars that were known for years.

Specifically, he writes in a letter that Metro failed to share its knowledge of this safety issue with its direct safety oversight group, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.

Connolly says it is part of a consistent pattern of resistance within Metro to provide critical safety information.

The transit agency pulled all of its 7000-series rail cars after Oct. 12's partial derailment on the Blue Line, which happened near the Arlington Cemetery station.

Nearly 200 riders sat on the dark train and then walked through a tunnel the equivalent of about six football fields to get to safety. Some riders reported smoke on the train and made panicked calls to family members to tell them they loved them, fearing the worst. 

One person was taken to a hospital. Many more people could have been hurt or even killed, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said at a news conference.

Metro riders have been grappling with lengthy delays and less frequent trains for nearly a month as authorities investigate the derailment and inspect the 700 series railcars.

Wiedefeld said WMATA is continuing to work with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission on a plan to get the 7000-series railcars back into service. Wiedefeld said the transit agency has finished inspections of all its 7000-series railcars for the wheel defect that caused the derailment.

Paul Smedberg, head of Metro's board, talks with Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss about getting answers on the Blue Line derailment, improving Metro delays and restoring trust with riders.

Metro is working to bring older model 2000- and 3000-series trains out of storage and return more 6000-series trains that are under repair back into service.

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