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Rumors Swirl Of Major Shakeup At DC Metro That Will ‘Rock The Place’

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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After a series of track fires and the Federal Transit Authority’s (FTA) recent safety ultimatum to the D.C. Metro, a source inside the system says changes are on the way that could “rock the place.”

The source told NBC4 Metro’s organizational structure and personnel could be in for a shakeup that would “rock the place,” after another week of track fires and delays and a scathing report from federal safety officials. FTA handed down the safety ultimatum last week to force some immediate actions.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Monday firings were “always an option” as he moves forward with a planned overhaul of the trains and tracks that is scheduled to take at least a year. An FTA spokesman said Wiedefeld’s plan, however, does not go far enough to address safety threats. (RELATED: Fireball On DC Metro Leads FTA To Slap Officials With Safety Ultimatum)

“You always want to start where you’re trying to bring people along to bring them to where you want to be, you want to make sure you’re giving them the tools,” Wiedefeld told WTOP. “But clearly, if someone cannot perform at that level, it’s probably best for both of us to move along.”

Wiedefeld will meet with 650 agency managers Tuesday to discuss the various safety failures. The response to FTA’s crackdown will address general concerns and the dangerous miscommunication during a track fire Thursday. The FTA found officials responded slowly, and misdiagnosed the mechanical failure which sent sparks flying over the platform at the Federal Center southwest station.

Metro maintenance personnel requested the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) cut power to the line after the first track incident Thursday morning, however ROCC personnel denied the request until the second fire. For hours before the second fire, Metro sent passenger filled trains on the potentially dangerous track. (RELATED: DC Metro Unnecessarily Put Passengers At Risk In Deadly 2015 Fire)

The FTA gave Metro a May 16 deadline to address a number of serious concerns with the system’s response to emergencies. If Metro fails to meet the deadline, the FTA said they could see up to 25 percent of their financial assistance withheld, or be forced to reduce service until the FTA’s standards are met.

Metro’s chairman Jack Evans said they will meet the FTA’s timeline and work to fix the miscommunication surrounding Thursday’s fire. Wiedefeld will release a final version of his SafeTrack repair overhaul May 16.

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