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DC Metro Chair Furious After Derailment, Calls For Heads To Roll

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The chair of the Washington, D.C., Metro board is furious following the derailment last week, demanding workers be fired after federal inspectors blamed familiar problems in safety culture for the accident.

D.C. Metro officials failed to follow their own track inspection rules and ignored safety threats before the derailment in Virginia July 29. Metro Chair and Council member Jack Evans said he is tired of employees and supervisors ignoring internal safety codes and fragrantly violating policies. Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released preliminary findings of their investigation Wednesday, revealing Metro officials were only conducting track inspections in the area of the accident roughly once a month, reports NBC Washington.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) policy mandates tracks be checked and inspected every two weeks. (RELATED: Layoffs Loom Over DC Metro As GM Calls For Meeting On Safety Procedures)

“I’m furious about it, to be honest with you,” Evans told NBC4. “I thought by this point, after everything that Paul Wiedefeld [Metro GM] has said about people taking their jobs responsibly and doing what they are supposed to do, that we wouldn’t have things like this happen.”

Evans, who is demanding greater federal and regional funding for the system, said he is “outraged” by the continued safety failures of personnel that repeatedly place Metro riders at risk. Evans wants heads to roll over the latest incident and is calling on the Metro general manager to internally investigate the matter. (RELATED: DC Metro Workers Lash Out At Superiors, Demand Steep Increase In Funding)

“I would encourage the general manager to find out who was supposed to be doing [the inspections] and then fire them,” Evans told NBC4. “It’s very hard for me to go out and try to get more money for this system when we have these crazy antics happening.”

The NTSB investigation confirms earlier reports from officials with the D.C. Metro that blamed the derailment on deteriorating rail ties in violation of track safety standards, however the NTSB report reveals further negligence on the part of WMATA inspectors.

“These things shouldn’t be happening,” Evans told NBC4. “As the chairman of the board, I feel a little disconnected from what’s happening, because there seems to be something happening every day.”

Evans will consider bringing the directors of the Metro board together this month for a meeting on safety standards in light of the recent incidents.

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