Metro releases plan to return 7000 series cars to service

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Metro released a detailed document outlining the steps it will take to get a small number of its troubled 7000 series cars back into service this summer.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, the independent agency that oversees Metro’s rail system, has already approved the phased return plan that would include daily rail car inspections. The safety commission released a summary of the plan when it approved it on May 19, but Metro did not release the full document until Friday.

Metro worked for months to develop the plan and gain approval from safety regulators to return its new series of cars to service. The cars, which make up 60% of Metro’s fleet, were pulled from the system in October after a federal investigation into a Blue Line derailment discovered a defect in several cars that pushed the wheels outward.

A subsequent train shortage forced Metro to drastically cut service, just as riders began to return to the system for the first time since the pandemic began.

Metro will return some of its 7000 series cars to service this summer

The document released on Friday shows how Metro will return the cars in phases. During this first phase, Metro will return to service up to eight 7000 series cars per day. The transit agency must seek approval from the safety commission if it wants to increase the number of cars coming back into the system.

Metro expects to return to service this summer 64 cars, or eight trains of eight cars. The transit agency said it has designated 248 acceptable cars that could be part of the initial phase, according to the document.

Cars will undergo daily inspections, but Metro hopes to eventually move to inspections every seven days.

Only cars with 350,000 miles or less by May 17 will be among those returned to service in the initial phase, according to the plan.

“Metro reiterates its commitment to the safe return to service of the 7000 series car fleet,” the transit agency noted in the documents. “Metro understands that the root cause of the wheel migration has not been identified or resolved and is fully committed to safely and reliably returning the 7000 Series to service through carefully controlled vehicle operation within specified for wheelsets.”

Metro obtains authorization to reintegrate 7000 series cars into the system

Metro officials pledged to put procedures in place to ensure cars would not enter service without a thorough review, explaining how train technicians would carry out daily inspections. Metro also said it would collect car performance data.

Phases 2 and 3 of the 7000 series car return to service plan are still being developed and would require Safety Board approval.

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