FTA requests SSOAs report wheel gauge data and provide inspection results

Nov. 1, 2021
The safety advisory follows a WMATA derailment where a wheel assembly was found to be out of compliance.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has published a safety advisory directing State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOA) to report out-of-tolerance wheel gauges on all rail transit rolling stock in revenue service and conduct inspections of wheel gauges at rail fixed guideway public transportation systems (RTAs) in their jurisdiction.

The safety advisory references the Oct. 12 derailment of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) train in which the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is focusing its investigation on “the pressed wheel/axle interface and widening wheel gauge on wheels and axles.”

WMATA has removed all of its 7000-series cars from service. The authority has inspected nearly 3,000 wheel assemblies within the fleet and is working to test the cars and return them to service, while it works with NTSB during the investigation into the derailment.

By Dec. 1, (30 days from the publication date of the advisory), SSOAs must submit the following information on each RTA in its jurisdiction:

  • Total fleet size, by mode;
  • Wheel gauge inspection protocols (specifically, the routine periodicity of inspections), by mode; and
  • The number of vehicles that failed wheel gauge tolerance levels, based on the RTA’s internal and approved procedures, from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, by mode.

Additionally, by Jan. 3, 2022, SSOAs should submit to FTA for the rail transit fleet in revenue service at each RTA in its jurisdiction:

  • The time frame during which these inspections were conducted (starting no earlier than Oct. 1, 2021);
  • The total number of revenue service vehicles inspected; and
  • The total number of revenue service vehicles that failed wheel gauge tolerance level based on the RTA’s internal and approved procedures, by mode.

FTA’s Safety Advisory 21-1, Fleet-Wide Inspection of Wheel Gauging on Rail Rolling Stock, was published Nov. 1 and can be found in the Federal Register.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.