A failed rail fastener caused the August 6 derailment of a passenger-less Metro train, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says in a report about the first part of its investigation into the incident, which caused chaos throughout the subway system. The defect was detected on July 9, WMATA’s report says, but a technician “erroneously deleted the defect” from a report, “believing it to be a routine anomaly.”
The investigation also revealed that Metro lacked a system to compare data from the vehicle that identified the defect with the technician’s report.
The 47-page report also contains question-and-answer-style reports with two “track walkers”—names redacted—who inspected the track on August 6 and said they were unaware of the defect.
WMATA says it has taken “immediate safety actions,” is reworking its quality processes, and that it is accepting responsibility with a series of “Safety stand-downs, or brief stoppages in work for safety critical meetings” that will “re-emphasize the importance of walking track inspections.”
Now the investigation moves to WMATA’s safety department, which is expected to deliver a draft investigation late next month. Interim general manager Jack Requa has asked WMATA’s chief safety officer James M. Dougherty to review the safety depart’s role in the derailment.