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Day One Of NTSB Hearing

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By Matt Bush

Metro's general manager and board chairman were among those who testified during day one of a National Transportation Safety Board hearing into last June's red line crash that killed nine people.

Few questions specifically focused on the accident itself. One that did came from the NTSB's Dave Watson, who asked Metro assistant GM David Kubicek about deferred maintenance on the train that struck the other during the accident.

"That deferral, would it have had a detrimental effect on the braking performance of that striking train?" asks Watson.

"Absolutely not," says Kubicek.

"Would it have, would that train have been held out of service?" asks Watson.

"If that piece of equipment during its daily service, would have failed one of the daily checks, it would have been held out of service," says Kubicek.

Much of today's testimony focused on what oversight Metro's board has over safety. Board Chairman Peter Benjamin said the board's role is mostly to make policy.

"If it gets to the point that what you're looking for is the board to create safety by reviewing reports, you've missed the point," says Benjamin. "This has to be an inherent part of the entire agency and its culture."

Benjamin went on to testify that Metro has reached out to federal authorities such as the U.S. Department of Transportation to help with safety training.

Federal oversight of commuter rail systems will be the focus of tomorrow's testimony, with representatives from three federal agencies expected to speak.

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