- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

National Transportation Safety Board officials said Tuesday that they will not investigate the derailment of a Metro Orange Line train in Northern Virginia.

“We are aware of it and we are monitoring it,” said Bridget Serchak, an agency spokeswoman.

The cause of the derailment Monday afternoon between the Rosslyn and Court House stations is not yet known. Metro officials are investigating the incident and will release information once it becomes available, said spokeswoman Taryn McNeil.

Mrs. McNeil also said she does not know how long the investigation will take.

One wheel on a train car came off the tracks about 2:45 p.m. The 412 passengers on the six-car train waited about an hour without lights or air conditioning before a backup train arrived in the tunnel. No injuries were reported, but a pregnant woman was taken to a hospital for observation.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is required by law to investigate all aviation accidents, but only railroad accidents involving passenger trains or any train accident that results in at least one fatality or major property damage. It also investigates transportation cases involving reoccurring problems.

“It is typical of us to take on accidents that have a broader opportunity for us to make an impact on safety,” Mrs. Serchak said.

The last Metro car derailment was in January 2007, when one of six cars on the Green Line left the tracks at the Mount Vernon Square station. The NTSB investigated the accident, which injured 20 people.

The board ruled in October that Metro’s failure to keep up with basic maintenance and its refusal to take safety steps recommended for years by internal and external reviews were the likely causes of the accident.

Since the Mount Vernon accident, Metro has installed guardrails along curved track and ensured all rail-car wheels are smooth. Metro officials said the derailment was probably caused by rough surfaces left on rail-car wheels.

In addition, Metro officials have improved the safety and performance of CAF brand rail cars.

CAF cars have accounted for 13 of 21 Metro derailments since their introduction in 2001. They constitute about 20 percent of all Metro cars. The car that derailed Monday was a Breda brand car.

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