Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld said he will not resume the placement of 7000-series trains into passenger service for about 90 days to allow Metro engineering and mechanical experts time to focus on root cause analysis and acquire technology to measure 7000-series wheelsets.
During the 90-day period, Metro will accelerate efforts to restore 6000-series railcars to increase the availability of newer cars in the fleet and improve reliability for customers.
“Dedicated staff members are working with three outside groups to make sure the new railcars are safe to operate, and we concluded that their efforts to maintain and inspect trains – with maximum capacity getting just five trains back in service each day — isn’t where we need to be focused,” Wiedefeld said. “We are going to redirect our efforts towards identifying and tackling the root cause of the derailment and take steps to better support more continuous wheel measurements by installing trackbed technology.”
Metro will continue to operate its currently scheduled rail service, with customer wait times averaging less than 10 minutes on all lines.
“Our customers are always top of mind and none of the decisions we’ve made are easy, but they are critical to our ability to restore service,” Wiedefeld said. “We appreciate each and every customer who continues to ride Metro and recognize that many people depend on the service. We also thank our employees who are doing their best to meet rider expectations during a challenging time.”
Metro will continue to work closely with its outside experts Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), as well as transparently engage oversight agencies the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on root cause analysis.
Current service is averaging below 200,000 rail trips daily – less than a third of pre-pandemic demand due to the holidays, increased telework and the Omicron-fueled surge in Covid cases. The average number of passengers per car today is about 45, far less than Metro’s established maximum standard of 120 passengers per car. Metrobus service is expected to resume weekday schedules in the coming days or weeks, as the current pandemic surge ebbs and more employees are available.