By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Washington subway system said on Thursday that it plans to delay the return of trains like the one that derailed in October by another 90 days.
Metro, the D.C.-area subway system, said it will not resume efforts to return 7000-series trains into passenger service to allow “engineering and mechanical experts time to focus on root cause analysis and acquire technology to measure 7000-series wheelsets.”
A safety commission in October ordered the subway system to indefinitely remove about 60% of its railcars following inspections after the derailment. Metro has been operating reduced service since then.
Metro serves the U.S. capital and parts of Maryland and Virginia. Current service is averaging under 200,000 rail trips daily – less than one-third pre-pandemic demand due to several factors, including telework and the Omicron surge, Metro said.
In December, Metro began to bring its 748 7000-series trains back into service but the safety commission found some did not meet the criteria specified in its return to service plan and they were removed.
The commission required revisions to the plan before any 7000 Series cars could be returned to passenger service.
In October, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) asked U.S. transit agencies to conduct inspections of wheel gauges on rail cars following the Washington subway derailment.
The National Transportation Safety (NTSB) said the train had derailed at least three times on Oct. 12.
The derailment did not injure any of the 187 passengers onboard, but NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said the incident could have been “catastrophic.”
Metro said Thursday it is working to accelerate efforts to restore 6000-series railcars to increase the availability of newer cars in the fleet and improve service.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis)