“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected”

Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

You gotta read between the lines on this press release but could be crazy:

“Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today that the investigation into the East Falls Church derailment, which began as an administrative review by the Safety Department, has been expanded to include an investigation by Metro Transit Police.

Wiedefeld directed the Metro Transit Police Department to open a parallel investigation into the matter following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings.

“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said. “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”

Metro’s General Counsel, Patricia Y. Lee, has engaged two former Assistant U.S. Attorneys as Special Investigators to support the internal administrative review. Adam Hoffinger, a former AUSA for the Southern District of New York, and Peter White, a former AUSA for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, will work closely with Lee on this matter. Both have extensive prosecutorial experience with complex cases.

“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected,” said Wiedefeld. “The information uncovered to date raises potentially serious concerns, and we will take all actions necessary to get answers and hold people accountable.”

Wiedefeld assured riders today that the SafeTrack program underway (in which Metro tracks are being inspected and repaired) has been and will continue to be subject to quality controls from multiple internal and external groups to ensure all track work meets Metro’s high standards. (At the time of the derailment, East Falls Church interlocking had not yet been addressed as part of SafeTrack.) Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.

“While we continue the due diligence to identify the cause of any conditions that may have contributed to this incident, Metro is simultaneously repairing the system and providing better rules, training, quality control and line management,” said Wiedefeld.”

20 Comment

  • So rail inspections and repairs that were supposed to have taken place maybe did not take place at all, or not in the manner that they were supposed to, which has led now to a criminal investigation?

  • “Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.”
    Seems like WMATA’s solution to everything is hire an outside consulting firm, get a report and then let it sit unread and not acted upon.

    • Sounds like whatever has come out directly related to this issue coupled with other things, has left Wiedefeld with little confidence in his staff. This lack of confidence basically insure he has to have outside people double check and investigate.

  • Wow, looks like some of the stories on FixWMATA are coming to light (employees falsify records etc.). In other words – good.

  • I’m hoping they have the “inspectors” on camera smoking pot or sleeping on the job. Because that’s pretty much what I suspect happened

    • And I’m glad Wiedefeld is bringing the Police in. That shows these are criminal actions, not just fraud that will be covered up by the union. Kudos again to Wiedefeld

    • I’m picturing more of a “submitted inspection reports for tracks that were never inspected” outcome, not just run-of-the-mill laziness.

      • Isn’t that the same thing? The person probably submitted false inspection reports because they were lazy and while they were smoking pot and sleeping on the job.

        • I can’t tell if this is meant as a weird joke, but in case it’s not: no. If a person who sleeps and/or smokes pot on the job also performs inspections, they might not be well done but they would have been performed.
          If a person, whether they smoke pot or sleep on the job, never bothers to inspect the things they’re supposed to in the course of business and then submits falsified inspection reports, that’s different than just being lazy or unmotivated. It’s fraud.

  • Sounds like Weidefeld is gearing up to make the strongest case possible, against an expected Union defense.

    • Yeah, I agree, and I appreciate and support that. I’ve heard it said that it actually isn’t that difficult to fire bad government workers, but it takes a good government manager to do it, so it seems like this is what is happening. I’m frustrated (and scared) that it seems like the “lack of safety culture” is so pervasive that someone could actually falsify safety records and still go to sleep at night. It sounds like that may have been the case for many, many years, and turning that culture around is going to take a significant work.

    • Looks to be a lesson learned from the L’enfant smoke incident. Wiedefeld fired the worked responsible and the union is fighting it in court. Got to appreciate his double-down offense. I can tell he means business when he said he wants to clean house!

  • I saw workers walking the tracks just outside of Fort Totten at about noon. I like seeing that. I think Weidefeld is doing a good job in a very difficult situation.

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