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NTSB to release cause of Metro crash

The Red Line crash occurred north of Fort Totten Station on June 22, 2009. (By James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

[This post has been updated]

The National Transportation Safety Board will release a cause into last year's deadly Red Line crash during a meeting July 27, according to NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway.

The NTSB released an advisory on Thursday that said the Board will meet "to consider a final report" on the accident, which killed nine people and injured 80 on June 22. It was the deadliest crash in Metro history.

Holloway said board meetings typically begin at 9:30 a.m., but the agency, which is located at L'Enfant Plaza, would release more details closer to the date.

The NTSB is investigating three additional accidents in tandem with the Red Line crash, which killed eight passengers and a train operator. A series of accidents and safety lapses at Metro drew unprecedented scrutiny from federal officials in the following months. The other accidents under investigation include:

-- A Nov. 29 accident at a Northern Virginia railroad, which injured three workers.
--The Jan. 26 deaths of two track workers near Rockville Station. Metro fired the train operator in that accident.
-- A Feb. 12 Red Line derailment that happened near Farragut North Station. More than 340 people were trapped underground for more than an hour and three people suffered minor injuries. Metro fired the train operator in this incident, too.

Following the June 22 crash, Metro has been dogged by a series of lapses in safety and oversight, which precipitated a call by the Obama administration for federal supervision of light rail and subway systems nationwide.

It has been a downhill slide for an agency once viewed as a national model for public transit.

The NTSB held a three-day hearing into the Red Line crash in February. The hearings included pointed questions about safety lapses at Metro and testimony about subway oversight across the country.

As the hearing concluded, hearing chairman Robert L. Sumwalt Jr. said the sessions had been productive. The panel heard from 21 witnesses.

"We got new information, important factual information, and that is one of the very significant parts of the hearing," he said. "We are here on a fact-finding investigation. We are here to learn from this tragedy . . . so it does not happen again."

-- Staff reports

By Michael Bolden  |  May 20, 2010; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Metro , Safety  
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The problems with Metro are being exacerbated by the lack of a sense of urgency related to completing a review and final report to accident causes.

These reports on Metro accidents need to be completed in 90days and final reports issued within 120days of the accident.

Perhaps having some assistance and training from US Air Force accident investigators as well as the highly regarded Indiana State Troopers would help to provide the skill set required to push up the calendar and get to an understanding regarding the lack of professionalism shown by Metro workers and managers.

Announcing that we need to wait another 90 days for a report is not acceptable nor is it in any way professional.

Posted by: tedpas | May 20, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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