WMATA’s 7000-series fleet pulled again from service

Dec. 30, 2021
The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission ordered the fleet to be pulled from service six days after WMATA said it was pausing the fleet’s return to service.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) fleet of 7000-series railcars was ordered out of service by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) on Dec. 29.

WMSC’s order cited it had no technical objections to WMATA’s return to service plan for the 7000-series fleet contingent on the railcars meeting specified inspection criteria. WMSC says it observed certain 7000-series railcars that did not meet the inspection criteria.

The railcars, which represents about 60 percent of WMATA’s total rail fleet, can be returned to service once WMSC is provided with a revised return to service plan that includes the following:

  • Specific additional protections and internal oversight Metrorail will carry out to ensure that any asset that fails a safety-critical inspection, including back-to-back measurements is removed from and kept out of passenger service;
  • The specific additional protections and internal oversight Metrorail will carry out to ensure that no alternative procedures or practices are introduced outside of the official plan; and
  • Revised inspection frequency and any other criteria based on all available data, including measurements taken since Dec. 1, 2021.

In addition to the above, WMSC will need to be notified by WMATA of any revisions to the plan for a 14-day review before revisions are implemented.

On Dec. 23, WMATA said it was pausing the metered return to service of the 7000-series railcars and moving to nightly inspections of the fleet that had been reactivated.

WMSC originally ordered the cars be pulled from service after an Oct. 12 derailment where a wheelset was found to be out of compliance with specifications. While the derailment has thrust wheelset specifications into a spotlight, the National Safety Transportation Board continues its investigation into the incident and has not determined a probable cause.

Following the initial pulling of the 7000-series fleet, WMATA ran reduced Metrorail service and worked to return older models of railcars to service.

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.