Monday, December 13, 2010

"No One Cares"

Unsuck recently spoke with a former Metro employee who worked for many years in rail car maintenance. What they had to say was alarming.

Every night, when trains are brought into the rail yards, maintenance personnel working the "graveyard shift" are supposed to do what is called a Daily Safety Test (DST). Basically, it is supposed to be a check of the inside and outside of the trains to see if there is any physical damage, if there are any non-working parts or if there are other anomalies with any of the cars that would require taking them out of service and taken in for maintenance.

Among the things to be checked during a DST would be vital systems and parts like collector shoes, brakes, shoe fuses, circuit breakers, train radios and other items.

"Most people don't do it," the source said.

For example, they said, one time a train hit something on the track, which knocked off the antenna used for communication with central control, which controls the movement of all trains throughout the system.

It should have easily been caught had a DST been performed, the source said, but instead, the train was sent out as a revenue train the next day.

One worker, the source claims, had a full-time day job unrelated to Metro and instead of conducting DSTs and other duties, they would lock themselves in a train and sleep the entire shift.

"They'd come back with a list of things they'd 'fixed' at the end of the shift, but it was just 'penciled whipped' [made up]," they said.

Other drowsy workers would lock the trains so that the cleaning or other personnel could not get in, the source said.

People with high seniority have these jobs, the source said. "They're just going through the motions."

A former operator remembers that they'd often pull into the yard at night and hear communications over the radio that DSTs were being done on various trains.

They said they could hear people on the radio rapidly reading off the numbers of trains that had allegedly been inspected one after the other.

"It was too fast for anyone to have really been doing the tests," they said.

When we asked the maintenance source about the general disposition of the workers charged with performing DSTs, the reply was simple: "No one cares."

More tomorrow.

Other items:
Metro Board personnel changes coming (Examiner)
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