- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

Commuters on the Silver and Orange lines said Monday that their confidence has been shaken in Metro safety following a train derailment, but added that they will continue to ride the rail for want of better options.

Friday’s derailment, in which one person was slightly injured, occurred near a section of track at the East Falls Church station where repairs have been made as part of Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance plan.

“I was surprised that they would have a derailment during a period of rail work,” said an Orange Line rider named Michael, who lives in Alexandria and commutes into the District.

Michael, 54, said he thought Metro would hold itself to higher safety standards under SafeTrack, even though he expects service “snafus” along the subway system.

“Things don’t really change,” said consultant Andrea Clark, 32, who rides the Orange Line from East Falls Church to L’Enfant Plaza.

On Monday Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced a special “supervisory inspection” will be conducted for all tracks as an added safety precaution following Friday’s derailment, in which the last two cars of a six-car train slipped from the track during the morning rush hour.

Pam Kraus, 27, who rides the Orange Line to her job near the L’Enfant Plaza station said the continued inspection of the rails lets her know that “safety is on the minds of Metro.”

But some riders think the derailment is evidence that the transit agency is not living up to its promise of a new safety culture.

Most mornings, Ms. Clark is on the subway by 6 a.m. for a commute that could take 30 to 60 minutes depending on what area of the rail system SafeTrack is disrupting.

“I got a text message from my boss [Friday] morning, and I thought, ‘It’s the end of the week, I’m not dealing with this,’” she said.

Since SafeTrack began in June, Ms. Clark has done her best to avoid driving at all costs: “Economically, it just isn’t very sound for me,” she said.

Friday’s derailment, which suspended service from the West Falls Church/McLean station to the Ballston station, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she added.

Metro provided free shuttle bus service between inoperable stations, but Ms. Clark said the “horrible” buses never run on time.

The rail segment remained closed through Sunday to allow for a “full assessment of the track and infrastructure,” Metro said in a press release. Over the weekend workers replaced more than 450 “deteriorated” rail ties — the likely cause of the derailment.

Mr. Wiedefeld said Metro is conducting its own investigation into the cause of the incident and also has hired a third-party expert to conduct a “parallel, independent review.”

While media reports said investigators for the National Transit Safety Board were dispatched to the scene Friday, it is uncertain whether the federal agency will launch a full investigation.

Since the Federal Transit Agency was given temporary supervision over Metro in October, it has conducted more than 200 inspections that found more than 1,100 instances in which Metro employees failed to follow company procedure.

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