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U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) yesterday raised questions about the effectiveness of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) maintenance programs following a derailment earlier this week.In a letter to WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld, Comstock said the Jan. 15 derailment on the Red Line exemplifies the "unacceptable condition of WMATA and the dire need for fundamental reform."The derailment occurred even after WMATA completed its "SafeTrack" accelerated maintenance plan last summer. Investigators believe a break in the rail caused the incident. No injuries were reported."Strong assurances were made to riders that SafeTrack would avert these types of accidents, yet we continue to see these situations far too frequently," Comstock wrote.As the Red Line derailment investigation continues, Comstock requested documents related to recent ultrasonic testing in the area, automated geometry measurements and walking inspections.She also asked to see documentation related to the forthcoming forensic analysis and metallurgic testing of the removed and quarantined section of rail where the derailment occurred.Early last month, Comstock introduced legislation that would substantially increase funding for WMATA if the agency can make "fundamental changes necessary to meet reasonable benchmarks of a functional mass transit system."
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