Metro

Derailment Investigation Continues as Metro Aims to Get More Trains on Tracks

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Metro said Monday it has inspected most of its 7000-series trains nearly two weeks after one of them derailed on the Blue Line — but it's still unclear when it can return those trains to the tracks.

The transit agency pulled all of its 7000-series rail cars after a partial derailment earlier this month. Those cars make up about 60% of Metro's fleet.

Metro aims to bring five train sets a day from the Shady Grove station to help compensate for service gaps caused by inspections on the 7000-series cars, General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said in a video news conference Monday afternoon.

However, before Metro can move older model trains out of Shady Grove, it has to move construction equipment that is blocking the 2000- and 3000-series trains, Wiedefeld said.

In the meantime, every single 7000-series railcar needs to be checked for the wheel defect that caused the Oct. 12 derailment, officials have said.

Metro has inspected 728 of 748 of the 7000-series rail cars so far. Of the roughly 2,900 axels that have been inspected, crews discovered 18 of them were out of alignment, Wiedefeld said.

Wiedefeld said neither the train operator nor central control knew that the railcar that derailed had actually come off the tracks two times prior to the third derailment. It wasn’t discovered until a later inspection found damage on tracks, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board released its hold on the 7000-series cars, but the Washington Metro Safety Coalition must now clear them to return to service, he said.

Metro said it would continue to run limited rail service through at least Halloween, extending the expected timetable by a week. The transit agency previously said the delays would continue until at least Oct. 24.

Red Line trains are running every 15 to 20 minutes. Other lines are operating every 30 to 40 minutes. However, Silver Line trains are running every 30-40 minutes between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only. Riders should use the Orange or Blue lines to continue their trips.

Metro warned riders to be prepared for delays and suggests Metrobus as an alternative.

On Oct. 12, a Metro train derailed on the Blue Line near the Arlington Cemetery station.

Nearly 200 riders sat on the dark train and then walked through a tunnel the equivalent of about six football fields to get to safety. Some riders reported smoke on the train and made panicked calls to family members to tell them they loved them, fearing the worst. 

One person was taken to a hospital. Many more people could have been hurt or even killed, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said at a news conference last week. 

“The potential for fatalities and serious injuries was significant. This could have resulted in a catastrophic event,” she said.

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