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Metro Warned About Track Signals

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By Matt Bush

Day two of a National Transportation Safety Board hearing into last June's Metro crash focused on claims that Metro ignored warnings about track signaling equipment.

An engineer for Alstom Signaling testified nearly five years before the Red Line crash that killed nine people. His company warned Metro in a letter that mixing signaling equipment from different companies could become a safety problem.

Only one track signal used equipment from different companies, says Metro's assistant chief engineer Harry Heilman. He says that was at the Fort Totten station, near where the crash occurred. Heilman went on to say he was unfamiliar with Alstom's letter. Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB says he saw it for the first time today.

"We will be looking at that. But I do want to note the distribution list of that letter was literally hundreds and hundreds of people, that would have received that letter," says Heilman. "So, we will be looking at that. We will be interested be finding out what that letter says and what it means."

When asked further about the letter's lengthy distribution list, Sumwalt commented, "If I said what that said to me, that would be analysis, and that's what we're not here to do. We're here just to get information into the docket. But we will be interested."

The NTSB is not expected to release its full report on the crash until the summer, around the one-year anniversary of the accident.

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