New Metro cars blamed for continuing problems

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON — A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration rail technician says the increased power needs of Metro’s 7000-series cars – the system’s newest rail stock – is damaging the system that transmits electric power to trains, resulting in problems – including fires – that can cause delays.

“The fires are caused by these current draws by the 7000s,” Metro Automatic Train Operation technician Jack

Bounthong said in October. “We never had a fire incident before we got the 7000s.”

Bounthong explained how trains made up of 7000-series cars are causing track fires and other damage to the propulsion system that powers the trains. The 7000-series’ increased power needs are also responsible for delays because the increased power use can generate so much heat that sensors located near crossover tracks (where a train can switch from one track to the other) can erroneously sense a non-existent train on the opposite side of the tracks and send incorrect signals to other trains, as well as the Rail Operations Control Center.

“Now you got trains backing up – that’s why you get those delays,” he said, “because signals go in and out – the train will sit at the signal for no apparent reason.”


Shake, Rattle, but Metro won’t roll

  • Published in Local

metro logoA Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority contractor has confirmed that some homes located over a section of the Green Line are vibrating more than they should but the cause of the vibration is unknown, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said last week.

“WMATA continues to analyze track conditions, car design and car maintenance to identify the cause or causes for the elevated readings,” Wiedefeld said, but a report on the investigation of vibrating homes will not be available until 2018.

Ward 4 D.C. Council member Brandon Todd said residents in Northwest D.C. have been complaining to him about vibrations and damage to their homes for more than a year. 

“I remain extremely concerned that progress on this matter has been unusually slow, given the significance of the impacts described by residents,” Todd said last month.  “They report intense shaking of the vibration of their homes, which is causing cracks in the wall and other property damage. Similar reports have also occurred in other neighborhoods throughout the district.”


Metro discovers new shocking problem with 7000 series cars

metro logoA component in Metro’s newest rail car series is breaking prematurely and its manufacturer has designed a modification to fix it, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said.

David Stephen, spokesperson for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said a mechanic reported he was shocked while inspecting part of the underside of the 7000 series rail car Sept. 17. He called on Metro officials to pause inspection of 7000 series rail cars until after briefing railcar mechanics on potential hazards of inspecting and repairing the newest series of railcar.

“As a result of this incident, ATU Local 689 is demanding Metro not bring any 7000-series trains into the shop until all employees that come in contact with them are properly informed on the potential for hazards, and training is given on bringing trains to manufacturer specification (to date, railcar mechanics have yet to be trained on maintaining 7000-series cars),” Stephen said in a statement.

Stessel confirmed the mechanic was shocked while inspecting a railcar, adding the incident occurred at West Falls Church Rail Yard. He said the mechanic was not injured.


Manufacturer modifying Metro 7K rail cars after electric shock incident

Rail car part deteriorating prematurely, Metro official says

metro logoA component in Metro’s newest rail car series is breaking prematurely, and their manufacturer has designed a modification to fix it, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said Thursday.

A mechanic reported he suffered electrical shock while he was inspecting part of the underside of the 7000 series rail car at West Falls Church Rail Yard on Sunday, Stessel confirmed. This was related to the deteriorating rail car part, the ground brush. However, he suffered no serious injury. The mechanic said he did not want medical attention. However, Metro staff took him to a local hospital.

Stessel confirmed a problem is developing with the 7000 series trains, the newest in the Metrorail fleet.

“Yes, there were defective wires, there was a problem within the ground brush assembly itself and that problem is mitigated by the safety bulletin we put out,” Stessel said.


Metro finally retiring oldest cars

  • Published in Local

NTSB first warned subway system about danger following 2004 incident

metro logoWASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board says Metro’s 1000 series cars have to go and a Metro spokesman claims they will be gone in a few weeks.

But the problem goes back more than a decade, to 2006 when the NTSB first told Metro managers they might need to replace the aging cars following an investigation into a 2004 acciddent.

Meanwhile Metro continues to operate 34 of its original rail cars to transport passengers, despite the National Transportation Safety Board’s 2010 recommendation to remove them.


Metro Examines Fasteners

  • Published in Local

Vibrations on the Green Line and possible ties to derailments explored in subway

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WASHINGTON – Metro’s chief safety officer, Pat Lavin, said Tuesday Metro is investigating a possible connection between Metro rail fasteners and shaking houses located above the Green Line.

Inspectors say some of the fasteners may have been less than a day old when discovered broken.

“I wouldn’t say the rail clips are defective,” Lavin said. “If there’s an issue with a certain clip or a certain batch, those would be explored.”

Residents of D.C. neighborhood Petworth, located above the Green Line, complained to Metro executives last year they believe trains are causing their houses to shake and to vibrate, Metro said.


Metro examines possible effects of heft and vibrations from newer subway cars

  • Published in Local

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WASHINGTON – Metro is investigating residents’ complaints that trains are causing damage to D.C. homes, according to a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the organization has been looking for rail fasteners that can hold more weight.

Spokesperson Richard Jordan said in a statement Metro is investigating the claims as well as whether Metro even has a role in the vibrations that those D.C. residents reported.

“Metro has retained an independent third-party expert (Wilson Ihrig) to conduct field measurements following complaints of vibration from residents along a specific section of the Green Line,” Jordan said Wednesday. “While Metro has not confirmed the cause or severity of these vibrations – or even confirmed that the complaints are Metro-related, we have committed to conducting independent testing to determine next steps.”


Wet tracks and heavy axles add to more Metro problems

  • Published in Local

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Metro single-tracked trains between two Yellow Line stations for three hours as workers sealed off a small hole that was spraying water into a tunnel, according to a news release.

Trains single-tracked between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City stations on the Yellow Line after a Metro train operator reported seeing water entering a tunnel near L’Enfant Plaza Station around 11:30 a.m. March 16, according to a news release. At 2:30 p.m., the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reported workers repaired the tunnel leak and restored the formerly de-energized track to service.


Metro GM running out of “tools in the toolbox” to fix budget shortfall

  • Published in Local

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Metro’s general manager told the Metro Board of Directors’ finance committee that budget shortfalls may lead the public transit system back to the jurisdictions to ask for more money.

Board Chairman and D.C. Council member Jack Evans as well as Board member Michael Goldman have said they believe Metro will have to raise fares and reduce service, as Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld had proposed, for the FY 2018 budget because Metro needs the money.

Wiedefeld said Metro hopes to close the FY 2017 budget gap but that it might not be enough.

"The reality is, we are very close to (debt),” Wiedefeld said.

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