- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

Metro’s top official defended the rail system against a federal investigative report about a track circuit failing 19 months before the fatal Red Line crash, saying it does not indicate widespread problems.

“Though we have found anomalies in other areas of the rail system, we have not found anything that resembles the magnitude of the track circuit problem at Fort Totten,” said Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Thursday morning. “It’s important to know that an anomaly does not necessarily indicate failure in the track circuitry or train detection system. It’s like when a doctor does an EKG on your heart. A blip in the data doesn’t mean you’re having a heart attack, but the doctor may want to conduct more tests.”

The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday the malfunctioning circuit being examined in connection with the June 22 train crash near the station had been failing intermittently since December 2007.

A component of the track circuit, which is part of a system that monitors the location of trains in the system, was replaced 19 months ago and had been experiencing problems periodically since, the NTSB said, citing Metro maintenance logs.

NTSB: Metro train’s circuit failing since ‘07

The investigation already had determined that a similar component on the other end of the same circuit had been replaced five days before the crash, which killed nine people and injured dozens more.

Investigators said they have requested 18 months of “trouble tickets” to determine whether the problems had been reported and that they were seeking additional records that would indicate whether any train operators voiced concern about similar problems.

After the accident, Metro officials began reviewing operations data and identified some problems with other circuits. The NTSB said investigators and Metro officials are looking at the problems to determine if they are the same kinds of problems as were found at the accident site.

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