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DC Rail Control-System Chief Reassigned After Crash

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 8:34am

train derailWASHINGTON (AP) – The Washington-area transit agency has temporarily reassigned the superintendent of the automatic control system that is supposed to prevent train crashes following this week's crash that killed nine people, officials said Friday.

The deadliest crash in Metrorail's 33-year history occurred Monday when a train plowed into another that was stopped. The moving train was operating in automatic mode, which means it was primarily controlled by a computer.

Matthew Matyuf, who led the Automatic Train Control Division, has been temporarily assigned to a "special project," Metro officials said. They would not elaborate on what that project was.

The reassignment is not an indication of any wrongdoing, spokeswoman Candace Smith said.

"It's not meant to be a negative reflection on him at all," Smith said. "It's just a precaution until the investigation is complete."

Matyuf has worked for the transit agency for more than 20 years, Smith said.

Federal investigators said Thursday that Metro's signaling system failed to detect a test train stopped in the same place as one that was struck during this week's deadly crash.

Test results indicate the oncoming train involved in Monday's crash may have lacked information that another train was stopped on the tracks ahead.

Meanwhile Friday, a memorial service was being held for the train operator who was among those killed in the crash.

The service for Jeanice McMillan, 42, of Springfield, Va., was being held at the Temple of Praise Fellowship Hall in Washington.

"She will truly be missed by everyone she touched," said McMillan's brother Vernard, of Upper Marlboro, Md.

Jeanice McMillan and eight passengers were killed in the crash when her train barreled down the tracks and hit a stopped train. About 70 people were injured.

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