DC Metro Internal Review Finds Debris-Filled Tunnels, Inexperienced Crews

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Work crews are inadequately trained and tunnels are left dirty with debris, according to an internal safety report conducted by the D.C. Metro.

The report finds that tunnels and tracks are left neglected due to “staffing issues,” affecting the power running through the rails and causing long term structural damage. The safety report examined the systems powering the rails and procedures for identifying problem areas on the tracks. Officials with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) admit in the report they lack, “formally trained and experienced cable inspection crews,” reports WTOP.

“Established insulator cleaning schedule is not adhered to, predominantly due to staffing issues,” states the report, according to WTOP.

The report also notes the current power connection system poses a safety risk and should be replaced during new construction, a recommendation made by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in a previous report. Tunnel debris and generally dirty track conditions are often the cause of arcing insulators, which sparked track fires and contributed to the death of a passenger last year outside the L’Enfant Plaza station.

Officials have struggled to prioritize maintenance throughout SafeTrack and federal inspectors have repeatedly criticized workers for violating safety procedures. The FTA even questioned the safety of completed SafeTrack repairs.

Officials are presenting the safety report to the Metro Board of Directors Thursday for review.

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