Metro (WMATA)

Regulator: Metro Tracks Might Lead to Wheel Safety Issue

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A report on track problems raised more concern about wheel issues on Metro railcars.

Throughout the Metrorail system, turns, curves, switches and turnaround points on the tracks could potentially put strain on the wheels of railcars.

Metro’s safety watchdog – the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) – just uncovered an engineer’s report from around 2015 that talked about the problem of wheel migration, or wheels that move out of alignment.

“Metrorail knew in 2014 or 2015 of a series of instances of wheel migration issues on its legacy railcars – that is, the fleets prior to the 7000 series,” said David Mayer of WMSC.

That means Metro was told prior to the 7000 series derailment that on some stretches of track, wheel movement issues could be a problem.

Now, Metro says it wants to go line-by-line and check the tracks for any places where wheel migration issues could occur. 

“The idea is to ensure just a ton of layer of being conservative that we want to catch even the smallest migration long before it would cause an issue, because a wheel could migrate and not derail at all,” Metro GM Randy Clarke said. “ So, in so many ways, the complexity of a rail vehicle and the interface of not just track and switches and how all of that works is really complicated.”

Metro said it is measuring wheels of railcars daily to ensure no wheels are moving out of place. There have been no recent reports of issues.

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