Following a review of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) "7000 Series Return to Service Plan revision," the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) informed the agency that it “has no technical objections to Metrorail’s revised plan as submitted.”
The revised plan includes the introduction of cars with solely high press tonnage axles on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, and the introduction of a limited number of cars with low press tonnage axles each day on the Red, Yellow, and Green Lines.
The plan continues back-to-back and journal bearing inspections after every four consecutive service days and also includes specific data collection and analysis related to vehicles and vehicle-track interaction, including continued use of the Metrorail Vehicle and Track Working Group established under the September 2 plan to address engineering recommendations and suggestions and other data.
If supported by available data, future phases in the plan would include use of cars with low tonnage axles on all lines, followed by an adjustment of the back-to-back and journal bearing inspection interval for all 7000 Series cars to every seven days, according to the WMSC.
The increased availability of 7000s will support opening the Silver Line extension before Thanksgiving and reduce crowding on the Red Line. The plan identifies specific timeframes and well-defined steps for WMATA to return all trains for safe, reliable passenger service, according to WMATA officials.
“With this approval and close collaboration on the Silver Line extension safety report, Metro will be able to set an opening date in the near future,” said WMATA GM/CEO Randy Clarke. “I want to thank the Safety Commission for their collaboration on reaching this important safety milestone, so we have a clear path forward.”
According to the WMSC, the mitigations in the revised plan reflect currently known data including:
- Wheel migration has been identified on more than 80 7000 Series axles since 2017 (including through the current inspection procedure).
- That those trains in passenger use under Metrorail’s May 19 and subsequent WMATA Return to Service Plans to this point were selected from a specific group of 7000 Series cars.
- Metrorail has generally not run cars with low press tonnage axles in non-passenger service to any significant degree for the last six months.
- Available information continues to suggest there are multiple contributing factors to this wheel migration on 7000 Series cars, including factors that could differ across similar elements of the Metrorail system.
- Wheel migration remains under investigation.
Metrorail will continue adjustments that have been made to referenced documents, training, and inspection-related systems that reflect lessons learned and implementation challenges that have been identified due to the WMSC’s ongoing oversight.
The first phase of this plan specifies that any cars with all high press tonnage axles may be used each day if compliant with inspection requirements, and that up to 80 cars with one or more low press tonnage axles may be used each day.
Since WMATA began its inspection process in June, 694 railcars have been inspected more than 72,000 times and have operated safely over three million miles.