WASHINGTON - The Federal Transit Administration said in a report released Friday that the new 7000 series rail cars might be causing parts of the Metrorail tracks to break prematurely.
Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said Monday the number of cracked rails has not increased in the last few years, but that the broken fasteners are being replaced more often possibly because Metro is being more thorough with its inspections and maintenance.
An inspector for the FTA WMATA Safety Oversight division wrote in a routine inspection report that there might be more to the story.
In the December Safety Oversight report which was posted online Friday, a FTA inspector reported that several rail fasteners and clips, which help keep the rails in place, appeared to have "fresh" breaks.
The report said, "FWSO observed that track 1 had recent maintenance completed to replace numerous broken e-Clips. However, even some of the recently replaced e-Clips had already snapped."
The inspector said the new 7000 series trains weigh more than the older rail cars and that they might be causing damage to the rail fasteners soon after Metro replaces them.
"FWSO noted that the use of the 7000-series rail car trains—which weigh significantly more than the previous series rail cars—and the location braking or accelerating could be contributing factors," FTA said. "FWSO will continue to investigate this issue with WMATA track engineering."