Metro Retires Its 5000-Series Railcar Fleet and Twitter Rejoices - NBC4 Washington

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Metro Retires Its 5000-Series Railcar Fleet and Twitter Rejoices

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    Metro retired its entire 5000-series fleet on Friday. The trains were first released in 2001.

    If you’re a Metro rider who rejoiced when the company got rid of its oldest and worst railcars in 2017, there was more good news for you Friday. 

    Metro is retiring its entire 5000-series fleet, and Friday was the last day the cars would be in service.

    The company announced on Twitter that the entire fleet would be replaced with “new, more reliable” 7000-series cars, and that customers could expect Friday to be the last day they could ride cars that entered service in 2001.

    “End of the line: Today is the last day you'll ride a 5000-series railcar!” Metro said on Twitter. “The entire fleet is being retired, replaced with new, more reliable 7000-series cars. (All 1Ks and 4Ks already retired -- resulting in sharp improvements in OTP and reliability.)”

    As expected, Twitter users reacted with a flurry of humor. Some takes were spicy, including those that took issue with the carpeting in the 5000-series cars. 

    Metro’s 5000-series featured a major redesign to the interior of WMATA’s railcars when they first entered service, as the original yellow, cream and orange carpet and seats were replaced with a red, white and blue interior.

    Metro updated the cars when the 6000-series entered service in 2006, adding new displays and handlebars.

    WMATA previously retired the much-maligned 1000- and 4000-series cars, respectively the oldest and least reliable railcars, in 2017. While the 1000-series cars were reliable, their older design made them more vulnerable to catastrophic damage in the case of a collision, as demonstrated in a 2004 collision at Woodley Park and in the 2009 collision at Fort Totten that killed nine people, WAMU reported.

    Meanwhile, the 4000-series cars were found to be so unreliable and inefficient (they apparently broke down every 26,000 miles), that Metro opted not to refurbish the trains when they got to the middle of their lifespan and instead chose to purchase additional 7000-series cars. After gutting both models, Metro reported improvements in railcar performance and on-time arrivals.

    "Since the retirement of 1Ks and 4Ks, the 5Ks were the least reliable cars, and removing them should further improve our reliability above and beyond the improvements riders have already noticed," a Metro representative said. "On average, a 7000-series railcar is five times more reliable than a 5000-series, in terms of distance traveled before encountering a failure."

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    The old trains will be decommissioned, just like the older cars, to remove anything useful (like radio equipment) and then be sent to be scrapped in "an environmentally friendly process."

    Refurbished 2000-series and 3000-series cars, along with 6000-series cars, will still comprise part of Metro's fleet, but newer 7000-series cars now comprise the majority of cars in service.

    But this won’t be the end of carpeted floors and red, white and blue hues. The system is still using 6000-series cars while it adds newer 7000s (with chain barriers), but the system has already begun to draw up plans for a new generation of 8000-series cars.

    Since the retirement of 1Ks and 4Ks, the 5Ks were the least reliable cars, and removing them should further improve our reliability above and beyond the improvements riders have already noticed. On average, a 7000-series railcar is five times more reliable than a 5000-series, in terms of distance traveled before encountering a failure.

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