DC Metro’s Plan To Make System Safer Rewritten After Inspectors Find Its Not Safe

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Steve Birr Vice Reporter
Font Size:

Two scathing reports from federal inspectors blasting safety deficiencies in the D.C. Metro SafeTrack plan forced officials to revise their 10-month repair overhaul.

The additional repairs will focus on replacing switches, where trains change tracks. A faulty track switch contributed to the derailment of a train in Virginia July 29. D.C. Metro officials added seven new weekend shutdowns to the SafeTrack schedule and added numerous changes to each remaining Surge of repairs. Officials extended Surge 7 maintenance, which would have ended Thursday, through the end of the day Sunday. Officials pushed off Surge 8 repairs, which were scheduled to begin Saturday on the blue line, to August 27, reports The Washington Post.

Current Surge 7 repairs focus on red line track between the Shady Grove and Twinbrook stations in Maryland. Trains are continuously single tracking between the Shady Grove and Twinbrook stations and are running once every 18 minutes. (RELATED: Report: DC Metro Operators Fly Through Red Lights On A Regular Basis)

Back-to-back reports from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that blasted Metro officials over a litany of recent safety lapses prompted the maintenance revisions. The FTA said Metro officials failed to heed warnings made in the spring pointing out deficiencies on the tracks between the Ballston and East Falls Church stations where the derailment occurred. FTA investigators told Metro officials to prioritize maintenance on the section of track in question, but were ignored.

“It is appalling to hear more bad news regarding the ongoing safety struggles at Metro,” Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement earlier this month. “It is damning that the FTA had already identified track problems and highlighted their concerns to Metro about the area outside the East Falls Church station prior to the July 29th derailment.”

Metro officials failed to follow their own rules for track inspections before the derailment. Metro officials were only conducting track inspections in the area of the accident roughly once a month, despite policy mandating tracks be checked and inspected every two weeks.

Subsequent inspections revealed familiar safety threats on all six lines of tracks throughout the system, similar to the mechanical issues blamed for the recent derailment. The potential threats forced officials to overhaul their safety plan to meet the standards set forth by the FTA.

Beginning August 27 the system will shut down on various portions of blue line track for three consecutive weekends as part of the revisions to Surge 7 repairs. Surge 8 repairs kick off Sept. 15 and run for over a month, ending Oct. 26. Throughout Surge 8 orange line trains will single track between the Vienna and West Falls Church stations. The Surge will also include four consecutive weekend track shutdowns on portions of the orange line, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The FTA gave Metro officials 30 days from the release of the August 8 report to complete 12 required safety directives, including retraining track inspectors.

Follow Steve on Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact