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Metro: Decaying Rail Ties Likely Led to Silver Line Derailment

by Karen Goff August 2, 2016 at 10:00 am 10 Comments

Derailment near East Falls Church/Credit: VDOTA rail tie issue was the probable cause for last week’s Orange/Silver Line derailment, Metro said on Monday.

The derailment of a train bound for Wiehle-Reston East occurred Friday morning near the East Falls Church station. Parts of the line remained closed through Sunday, but reopened on Monday.

Those rail ties had not yet been replaced under Metro’s SafeTrack program.

While the investigation is ongoing, Metro released the following preliminary findings:

Metro’s safety department has made a preliminary assessment that the causal factor in the derailment is a track condition, specifically a condition where the two rails on which trains run were too wide as a result of deteriorated rail ties.

Other possible contributing causal factors, including car equipment, weather, temperature and other factors remain under review.

At this time there is no evidence of train operator error.

Metro General Manager/CEO Wiedefeld today ordered a special supervisory inspection of all tracks.

“While Metro and the outside experts continue their review, we are requiring supervisors to conduct a specialized track inspection to look for any other similar conditions that must be immediately addressed,” said Wiedefeld.

Metro has taken additional corrective actions, including: pre-inspecting interlockings (NoMa-Gallaudet, Silver Spring & Takoma) used on the Red Line prior to this morning’s implementation of SafeTrack Surge #6; requiring a supervisory pre-inspection of all interlockings that are required to be used to facilitate SafeTrack closures; and quality assurance audits of all these inspections.

  • Mike M

    This finding demonstrates that all the “surge” in the universe cannot overcome the inattentiveness of an entitled union workforce.

  • vdiv

    Can’t believe they used wooden ties in the first place. Maybe they will duct-tape it together…

    • Greg

      I don’t get it either. In the tunnels (not subject to as much or any weather) are concrete ties, but outside are wooden? Aren’t the wooden ones soaked in toxic creosote too?

      • vdiv

        They were probably aiming for the authenticity of a 19th century railroad, looks, smokes, smells, and wobbly tracks. Derailments just add to all of the excitement…

  • Rissa0707

    Isn’t this the new rail line that cost 2 billion dollars

    • Mike M

      Imagine what they could have done with another billion!

      • Greg

        Make it work?

        • Mike M

          Doubtful.

    • Robert Mowbray

      No, this isn’t the new line. It is part of the old line shared by the Orange and Silver lines.

  • Why do you bother?

    How the frack is there this kind of deterioration on the NEWEST line???

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