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Lawmakers slam DC Metro for 'unacceptable' train derailment

Lawmakers slam DC Metro for 'unacceptable' train derailment

Lawmakers who represent districts in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area are sharply criticizing the capital area's Metrorail subway system for a recent train derailment that snarled commutes in the nation's capital last week.

A train on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Orange, Blue and Silver line tracks derailed in downtown Washington on Aug. 6 as it was preparing to begin accepting passengers. 

No passengers were on board the train at the time of the derailment, but members of the Washington, D.C.-area congressional delegation have said the derailment is "unacceptable." 

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“The fact that WMATA was aware of the track defect that caused last week’s derailment in July yet took no corrective action is more than unacceptable — it is gross negligence that points to a troubling incompetence in the Metro system’s safety practices," said Rep. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (D-Md.), who is running for Senate in 2016. 

"By sheer luck, last week’s accident did not harm any passengers or Metro employees," Van Hollen continued. "Every Metro rider deserves their safety to be guaranteed by more than luck, and Metro must immediately disclose what actions are being taken to ensure every known track defect is fixed immediately upon detection.”

Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE (D-Md.) agreed, saying “it is flatly unacceptable that Metro knew about this problem for over a month and did nothing. 

"The individuals responsible for this utterly irresponsible failure should be fired, period,” Delaney said in a statement. “Riders shouldn’t risk their lives every time they take Metro." 

The Aug. 6 derailment is the latest D.C. Metro rail incident that has drawn the ire of lawmakers. 

The capital area transit agency has been under fire since a passenger was killed in a January incident involving a train becoming filled with smoke after experiencing an electrical problem. 

Investigators said the problem with the train, which was heading toward Northern Virginia on Metro's Yellow Line, was caused by faulty insulator on the subway tracks that was generating too much heat, trapping passengers underground in smoke-filled cars.

The incident resulted in Metro’s first passenger fatality since a high-profile crash on the Red Line in 2009 that killed nine people and led to widespread changes at the capital-area transit agency.

Delaney said Wednesday that he is "frustrated and appalled by consistent management failures at Metro. 

"I have fought for Metro in Congress, defended the need for strong mass transit and authored legislation to expand and rebuild our infrastructure, but that is only half the equation," he said. "Metro also has to get the job done. Maryland needs a safe, reliable and efficient Metro and the organization is falling short of that standard.”

Metro has stressed that there were no passengers on train that derailed on Aug. 6. 

"Metro is advising Orange, Blue and Silver riders of a service disruption that will impact service during the morning rush hour of Thursday, August 6 due to derailment of a non-passenger train at a switch point outside of Smithsonian Station," the agency said in a statement issued on the morning of the incident. 

"There were no passengers aboard the train and no injuries to the operator," the Metro statement continued. 

The capital area transit agency is issuing refunds to passengers who were caught in delays caused by the downtown D.C. subway train derailment. 

"We absolutely understand the frustration among our Blue, Orange and Silver line customers," Metro interim general manager Jack Requa said in a statement about the refunds. 

"Given the significant service disruptions that inconvenienced riders over multiple commutes this week, we are taking this step to thank everyone for bearing with us," Requa continued. "I also offer a sincere apology to everyone who was inconvenienced.”