Metro board calls failure to fix bad track 'unacceptable'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Metro's board of directors says the failure to repair a track problem that led to a derailment represents "a breakdown of the organization's chain of command" and "an unforgivable breach of safety."

Metro's general manager announced on Wednesday that the track problem was discovered in July and should have been fixed right away, but wasn't. A train with no passengers on board derailed in downtown Washington last week, snarling the morning commute.

The board's safety committee chairman, Michael Goldman, said in a statement Thursday that general manager Jack Requa has 10 days to complete an investigation into why the problem wasn't fixed. Speaking for the entire board, Goldman also praised Requa for his "transparent release of information" and efforts to hold people accountable.

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Metro's Board of Directors statement regarding derailment investigation:

"The Board is outraged and dismayed that anyone working at Metro would have critical safety information and not act on it immediately. It is totally unacceptable that the wide gauge track problem reported yesterday by the General Manager could go unaddressed and unrepaired for four weeks. This is a breakdown of the organization's chain of command and our safety culture. We obviously have much work ahead of us to improve the organization's safety culture, and we will do so," said Metro Safety Committee Chair Michael Goldman, speaking on behalf of the Board. "However, Jack Requa's transparent release of information, as well as his actions to order immediate track inspections and gather information to hold people accountable at every level, is what the Board expects and what the circumstances demand.

"The Board has directed the General Manager to complete his operational investigation within 10 days that will explain to the Board and our riders how this track deficiency went unrepaired for so long. The Board looks forward to learning how the chain of command broke down and where the responsibility lies. This is an unforgivable breach of safety that needs to be dealt with firmly and swiftly."