Subway track inspectors suspended, rail defects found following investigation

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Several MTA track inspectors have been suspended after an internal investigation revealed that they had failed to do their jobs properly.

Interim Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg says she considered stopping the trains and shutting down entire stretches of elevated subway lines that she claims track inspectors failed to inspect.

She says that she was stunned and angry.

"The reports were credible, caused me great concern and we took immediate action," Feinberg said. "I didn't want those folks touching anything that was safety-sensitive, so we removed those folks. And then I had all supervisors immediately inspect the entire systems."

Eyewitness News has learned that an internal investigation is focused on at least seven of the roughly 100 men and women whose job it is to walk the rails and look for defects. Tracks are required to be inspected twice a week.

"They were not inspecting the pieces of track that they were responsible for," Feinberg said.

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She says it's unclear for how long this went on.

When supervisors inspected the tracks, Transit Authority officials say they uncovered defects in the rails.

"No major, you know, life-threatening, or more significant issue that causes concern," Feinberg said. "But let me be really clear-that would have been horrible. But even the report that this could happen caused me sufficient concern that I brought in every single supervisor to walk every single inch of track."

She says she's satisfied that the public was not put at risk, and says redundant measures are always in-place to ensure safety.

On Friday night, the union's international president hit back.

"Frontline Track Inspectors are in fact being scapegoated for adhering to the flawed practices and procedures which have been in place for decades. The system itself is broken," he said. "And but for the expertise of TWU track inspectors, the subway tracks would be a disaster."

Union officials insist the inspectors are not accused of any safety-related violations. They remain suspended and this investigation is not over.

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