Editor's Note: Metro expects delays "at least" through the end of the week. Here are the latest service impacts.
Metro trains are running only about every 30 minutes Monday after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) pulled about 60% of its railcars out of service overnight. This comes following a derailment last week that left riders stranded in an underground tunnel in Northern Virginia.
WMATA pulled its 7000-series railcars to investigate an issue with the cars' axles. The 7000-series cars are the newest in the fleet. The transit authority made the announcement late Sunday.
Equipment problems that appear to have caused the Metro derailment in Northern Virginia last week have been known since 2017, a preliminary investigation by federal safety investigators showed. Metro train 407, which derailed on the Blue Line on Oct. 12, had two other minor derailments the same day and was able to get back on the tracks, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said at a news conference Monday morning.
After the third and final derailment, the train got stuck in a dark tunnel near the Arlington Cemetery station. Go here for developing details on the investigation.
What Metro Riders Should Expect Monday
All rail lines are set to operate with six-car trains every 30 minutes. The transit agency is running about 40 trains total Monday.
WMATA told riders to expect delays and suggested they consider taking Metrobus instead.
Due to the reduced Metro service, D.C. Public Schools said students who are late Monday would have their tardiness excused, although they were advised to factor extra time into their transportation plans.
Metro Found Axle Defect in Car That Derailed Last Week
About 200 people were headed away from Washington, D.C., toward Franconia-Springfield on Metro's Blue Line on Tuesday evening when a 7000-series train partially derailed about 1,800 feet from the Arlington Cemetery station platform, Metro officials said. That meant passengers had to walk about six football fields in a dark tunnel to the station's exit.
Arlington paramedics took one person to a hospital. Fire officials said that person was stable, but didn't provide details about their condition or possible injuries.
A defect – described as an out-of-compliance axle – was found in one of the the railcars on that train.
Similar defects were then discovered in other 7000-series cars that were not involved in the derailment, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) said Sunday. They were found during inspections done as part of the derailment investigation.
The WMSC said the prevalence of the defect was still unknown, and "an inspection interval that is adequate to detect this defect before a safety event occurs has not been determined."
For that reason, all of these cars were removed from service before the rail system opened Monday morning.
The 7000-series railcars, manufactured by Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc., are the newest in Metro's fleet. They began service in 2015. The last set of the nearly 750 cars purchased were delivered in early 2020.
What About Metro Service Later This Week?
WMATA said it would give updates about whether or not riders should expect the disruptions to continue through the rest of the week.