During the afternoon of October 12th, a DC Metro train derailed on the Blue Line between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn stations. According tothe New York Times, a preliminary N.T.S.B. investigation found that the same train had derailed twice in the prior 90 minutes before ultimately derailing. Although, the trail was able to rerail itself in the previous derailments due to the track layout in those locations. Of the 187 passengers onboard at the time, only a single person was hospitalized. The passenger’s injuries were described as non-life-threatening.
Greater Greater Washington reported that a change in technical specification on how wheels were attached to axles on DC Metro’s 7000-series train cars could be a contributing factor of the derailment. In the locations of the two rerailed derailments, N.T.S.B investigators had found broken pieces of brake disc. The wheels were originally contracted to be attached at a lower force of pressure relative to the other railcars used by the DC Metro, then specification was changed to match the rest of the rolling stock.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was forced by an independent safety commission to pull all 748 7000-series cars from service, which comprises sixty percent of the system’s rolling stock. WMATA has also acknowledged that this has been a known issue for at least 4 years. While Kawasaki Rail Car, the 7000-series manufacturer, and its workers have pledged their support to find a solution to safely reintroduce the cars into service, there’s no timeline on when that will happen.
For now, the DC Metro will have to continue operating with a severely reduced fleet. To compensate for the reduction in rolling stock, there is roughly 30 minutes between trains at Metro stations. Also, the derailment area under investigation is closed with a free replacement bus shuttle serving Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon stations. This all comes at a time when the DC Metro and public transit systems across the United States are attempting to resume pre-pandemic service levels and increase ridership.