Metro starts testing 7000-series railcars

A Metro official said Monday that the transit agency has started testing its 7000-series railcars, one of which was responsible for a train derailment last month.

Chief spokesperson Kristie Benson said two weighted eight-car trains will run throughout the system as part of Metro’s testing plan.

The trains are weighted to simulate passenger service but are not in passenger service, she said. Signs will inform customers that the trains are test trains.

On Friday, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission approved Metro’s plan to test the railcars, a step required to get the cars back on the tracks. The railcars, which make up about 60% of Metro’s fleet, were removed for safety reasons following a derailment on the Blue Line on Oct. 12.

The commission tweeted Friday that it had “no technical objections” to the revised plan for a simulated road test of two 7000-series cars and that it will closely monitor the testing.

Metro removed all of its 748 7000-series railcars last month after a National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that faulty wheel assemblies on the railcars caused a Blue Line train to derail near the Arlington Cemetery station. The train’s wheels shifted too far apart on their axles, a recurring problem with the railcars, the NTSB found.

After inspecting all of its 748 7000-series railcars last month, Metro discovered 20 axles to be out of alignment, said Ian Jannetta, an agency spokesperson.

The proposed test plan by Metro outlines inspecting wheelsets of the railcars every eight days and suggests testing on two train sets, according to a letter by Metro Chief Safety Officer Theresa Impastato to the commission.

The transit agency estimated that a period of 10 days would represent the “reasonable worst-case wheel movement rate,” and therefore, proposed to test the train sets for no less than 12 days.

Mr. Jannetta has said the testing will take a couple of weeks.

Metro had 40 trains in service on Monday, including four that were used for crowding and maintenance issues, according to Ms. Benson.

Trains were running every 12 minutes for the Red Line, every 20 minutes for the Green and Yellow Lines and 30 minutes for the other lines.

Ms. Benson noted that 94% of trains arrived within two minutes of their scheduled times this past weekend. Some eight-railcar trains were also running, giving Metro more capacity as it looks to improve its service, she said.

Officials haven’t said when they expect to return the 7000-series railcars to the tracks and operate at full service. They have said customers can expect reduced service until at least mid-November.

The transit agency has been working to add older 2000-, 3000- and 6000-series railcars to its tracks to help fill in the gaps from removing most of its fleet. The agency is trying to put a total of 50 trains on its track while its 7000-series railcars are out of commission.

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