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Metro Failed to Spot Defects Before Derailment

A transit authority investigation into the derailment of a six-car train carrying 412 passengers has determined that an inspector failed to notice and report poor track conditions on the day of the derailment.

The inspector did not spot defects in the track's alignment in the area of the derailment and "violated several inspection procedures," according to Ronald Keele, Metro's chief safety officer.

"The track conditions compounded with the forces of the moving train caused one wheel to climb atop one track and the other wheel to drop to the ground. We are very fortunate that there were no injuries," Keele said in a statement.

Metro says the track inspector is being retrained so that he can return to his duties.

The Orange Line train derailed on June 9 as it approached Court House Station. The front wheels of the third car slid off the tracks and dragged for 2,300 feet before the train stopped. A Metro employee riding on the train heard a loud noise and alerted the train operator to bring it to a halt.

None of the passengers was injured. The incident, at 2:42 p.m., delayed thousands of commuters.

There were several things wrong on the track bed, according to Metro: The tracks were out of alignment, track fasteners were loose and the spacing between the rails was improper.

"Our inspector failed to recognize the out-of-tolerance rail conditions," Keele said in the statement.

Metro said the inspector, a transit employee for eight years, did not inform the Operations Control Center of dangerous track conditions, did not report any dangerous or defective conditions to his supervisor, and failed to properly measure the space between the two tracks.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 16, 2008; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Breaking News: Metro employees not doing their jobs

Next up: Water is wet

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced that retraining is really in order. Perhaps firing.

If you're not able to do the most fundamental part of your job (in several different ways), I'm not sure it's because you need more training. And if training is the problem, I worry about the other track walkers.

Posted by: nashpaul | October 17, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced that retraining is really in order. Perhaps firing.

Or a jail sentence?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

It's not the different Metro cars, but possibly the different cut of the wheels on the trucks (wheel units)that could cause the wheels to climb over the rail & derail! The wheels can & were in past of different taper on the running edge that supposedly could encourge climbing up & over on curves especially.
Also Metro has at least on rail vehicle they run over the tracks to detect cracked rails & other defects. The car is or was designed not to be detected by train control from shorting the running rails. It could allow a consist to run into the undetected rail detection car! Also, Metro & other systems intentionally reduce the sensivity of the rail scan so only major issues are detected, rather than evaluating all detected anomalies! To much work created the other way & sure we will catch it when it gets worse attitude!

Posted by: Lightning | October 21, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

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