Washington subway system instructed to end the use of railroad cars

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WASHINGTON, Oct.17 (Reuters) – The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was ordered not to use nearly 60% of its railroad fleet Monday after a safety investigation found flaws similar to a recent derailment issue.

The subway system, which serves Washington, DC and parts of Maryland and Virginia, said that without these cars, it will “operate about 40 trains tomorrow – and provide a basic service pattern on all train lines that depart about every 30 minutes” .

This schedule could create significant delays for commuters. Washington schools in a tweet urged students to prepare for major delays to and from the school on Monday.

The suspension was prompted by an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the derailment of a WMATA Blue Line train between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations on October 12

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission said it had ordered the 7000 series trains to be taken out of service no later than 5:00 a.m. (0900 GMT) Monday, following the NTSB “safety concerns related to wheelbase on the axles of the 7000 series railcars “.

A spokesman for the Washington Metro Safety Commission confirmed that the 7000 series cars were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and its New York-based subsidiary Kawasaki Rail Car Inc, which delivered the first railcars to WMATA in January 2014.

The arrangement requires the removal of these 7000 series carts “by the time Metrorail develops a plan to assess the cause and provide for the detection and prevention of these wheel assembly anomalies.”

The derailment of a Series 7000 Blue Line train between the Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations in Arlington did not injure any of the 187 passengers on board, WMATA said.

The NTSB announced late Sunday that it would hold a media briefing on Monday to keep abreast of its investigation with Chairman Jennifer Homendy and Investigator in Charge Joe Gordon.

WMATA will later inform the public “of the service for the rest of this week”.

Washington’s subway system is historically the second most important in the United States, but thousands of U.S. government employees and others who normally commute to downtown Washington on a daily basis continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WMATA says in August, the latest data available, underground Service was 26% on weekdays and close to 50% on weekends before the pandemic.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Arrangement by Christopher Cushing and Diane Craft

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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