- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2007

Metro acting General Manager Jack Requa yesterday addressed the transit agency’s Board of Directors but provided few details about the cause of the train derailment Sunday that sent 20 persons to the hospital.

Mr. Requa discussed the derailment and the transit agency’s response before the previously scheduled budget meeting began, but he referred questions about the ongoing investigation to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Most NTSB investigations take a long period of time,” Mr. Requa said.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, a Metro board member, said after the meeting that the investigation needs to be conducted “as quickly as possible.”

“We want to be sure there are no equipment problems here,” he said.

The train involved used the 5000 series cars, which make up about 20 percent of Metro’s fleet.

Mr. Requa told the board that the NTSB had expanded its investigation to all derailments since the car series was introduced in 2001, but NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said there is no specific focus on the 5000 series yet.

Whether there will be one “depends on where the investigation takes us,” he said.

Mr. Holloway said workers performed maintenance on the train before the crash, but investigators don’t know yet whether it was routine maintenance or something more complicated.

“We’re still looking into that to see if that could be significant,” he said.

Mr. Requa praised the quick actions of Metro employees after the derailment, but Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said he had doubts about the efficiency of the response.

“The first report I got said there were no injuries,” he said. “We should have had reliable information immediately.”

The derailment occurred on the Green Line at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday, when the fifth car of a six-car train moving northbound crossed a rail switch and left the tracks before entering the Mount Vernon Square/7th Street-Convention Center station. About 120 passengers were on the train.

The car was removed from the tracks Wednesday morning and taken to the Branch Avenue maintenance facility, where investigators are examining it.

Authorities have started a “teardown inspection” of the fifth and sixth cars, and they are downloading event recorder data from the train. Investigators also are looking over work history records, dispatcher and signal data logs, and radio and telephone recordings.

Metro officials said damage to the tracks was minimal and has not affected train travel.

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