Behind the scenes on Metro car repairs (Photos, Video)

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld leads reporters through a work area in the Greenbelt Railyard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith)
General Manager Paul Wiedefeld leads reporters through a work area in the Greenbelt Railyard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
Bob Ernst demonstrates an $800 tool Metro has just begun using that can detect small leaks in brake cables by “hearing” the leaks. Finding and repairing the leaks can help prevent brake problems and prevents the car’s compressor from working overtime. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Bob Ernst demonstrates an $800 tool Metro has just begun using that can detect small leaks in brake cables by “hearing” the leaks. Finding and repairing the leaks can help prevent brake problems and prevents the car’s compressor from working overtime. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
Car maintenance superintendent Bob Ernst demonstrates a new power washing tool that has made maintenance on air conditioning parts quicker and easier. Wiedefeld noted “hot cars” are one of riders’ chief complaints in the summer. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Car maintenance superintendent Bob Ernst demonstrates a new power washing tool that has made maintenance on air conditioning parts quicker and easier. Wiedefeld noted “hot cars” are one of riders’ chief complaints in the summer. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
Railcars on two of the lifts in the Greenbelt Yard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Railcars on two of the lifts in the Greenbelt Yard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
A rebuilt circuit breaker (right) and some of the more damaged pieces that have been replaced (top center). The burning is caused by arcing incidents. One of these breakers sits inside each of the four corners of a railcar where power comes in through collector shoes. The breaker is designed to trip and cut off power if there is a power surge, similar to a fuse in a house. The railcars can operate with one of the breakers tripped, but if more go, the car is usually pulled from service. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
Rail car doors slide on wheels like these. The assembly on the right has been removed from a car because the right-most wheel has broken. The assembly on the left is like new. A Metro vehicle engineer says riders leaning on doors, which pushes them out of alignment, or blocking doors as they close can contribute to this kind of damage since the wheels are not designed to handle that stress. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Rail car doors slide on wheels like these. The assembly on the right has been removed from a car because the right-most wheel has broken. The assembly on the left is like new. A Metro vehicle engineer says riders leaning on doors, which pushes them out of alignment, or blocking doors as they close can contribute to this kind of damage since the wheels are not designed to handle that stress. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
a full, new door system being installed on 2000 and 3000 Series cars. The drive screw has been changed to put less pressure on other pieces of the mechanism and a spindle has been changed so that it no longer requires lubrication. The grease could collect gunk from Metro tunnels, leading to more issues. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A full, new door system being installed on 2000 and 3000 Series cars. The drive screw has been changed to put less pressure on other pieces of the mechanism and a spindle has been changed so that it no longer requires lubrication. The grease could collect gunk from Metro tunnels, leading to more issues. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
The mechanism hidden from riders that makes a Metro door move. The mechanisms are somewhat different on cars built in different eras. The new 7000 Series cars have a completely different mechanism. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
The testing system for a Metro train’s throttle. The green lights on the testing equipment indicate that the various different signals needed on different parts of the tracks are working properly. Typically, this testing would be done with the throttle still attached to the car, but it was pulled out for the demonstration. Pushing the throttle forward can put the train in one of five increasing speed modes. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
The inner workings of a Metro rail car as seen from below. The car is up on a lift and workers are in the middle of regular maintenance on the car. (WTOP/Max Smith)
The inner workings of a Metro rail car as seen from below. The car is up on a lift and workers are in the middle of regular maintenance on the car. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
A safety sign just outside the workshop. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A safety sign just outside the workshop. (WTOP/Max Smith)

A pair of 7000 Series cars pulling into workshop

A video posted by Max Smith (@amaxsmith) on

Looking at #wmata door closing mechanism

A video posted by Max Smith (@amaxsmith) on

(1/13)
General Manager Paul Wiedefeld leads reporters through a work area in the Greenbelt Railyard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Bob Ernst demonstrates an $800 tool Metro has just begun using that can detect small leaks in brake cables by “hearing” the leaks. Finding and repairing the leaks can help prevent brake problems and prevents the car’s compressor from working overtime. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Car maintenance superintendent Bob Ernst demonstrates a new power washing tool that has made maintenance on air conditioning parts quicker and easier. Wiedefeld noted “hot cars” are one of riders’ chief complaints in the summer. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Railcars on two of the lifts in the Greenbelt Yard on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Rail car doors slide on wheels like these. The assembly on the right has been removed from a car because the right-most wheel has broken. The assembly on the left is like new. A Metro vehicle engineer says riders leaning on doors, which pushes them out of alignment, or blocking doors as they close can contribute to this kind of damage since the wheels are not designed to handle that stress. (WTOP/Max Smith)
a full, new door system being installed on 2000 and 3000 Series cars. The drive screw has been changed to put less pressure on other pieces of the mechanism and a spindle has been changed so that it no longer requires lubrication. The grease could collect gunk from Metro tunnels, leading to more issues. (WTOP/Max Smith)
The inner workings of a Metro rail car as seen from below. The car is up on a lift and workers are in the middle of regular maintenance on the car. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A safety sign just outside the workshop. (WTOP/Max Smith)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Metro is aiming to repair eight cars each night through April to deal with repeated problems with things such as the doors and brakes, and take the first steps toward reducing the significant delays their malfunction can cause.

Metro doors open and close 45 million each month, magnifying the importance of functioning doors. In all, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said he hopes the repairs and testing demonstrated for reporters Tuesday on all Metro cars that are planned to remain in the system into 2018 and beyond will make riders’ experiences better.

On the 2000 and 3000 Series cars, Metro is testing the throttles after one shorted out awhile back, which prevented a train operator from controlling the car in the intended way. A testing machine ensures all the circuits are working.

On other cars, tough-to-reach door systems are getting overhauled. Sachit Kakkar, Metro’s lead vehicle engineer, said some issues are caused by riders leaning on doors while trains are moving or blocking doors as they try to close. The pressure can push doors out of alignment or cause wheels that help move the doors to break.

Metro’s General Superintendent for Rail Car Maintenance Larry Skelton said most of the new work has been added to a long list of routine maintenance tasks when the cars are brought in.

Wiedefeld hopes the $5 million in fixes, including new shields for air conditioning systems and better detection and repairs of leaks in the cables that control the brakes, will be completed by April as long as no other significant issues are found.

Metro began the basic repair program Nov. 1.

It will not make any additional changes to the 1000 Series or 4000 Series cars, which Metro hopes to retire by the end of 2017.

“We will still have issues, there’s no doubt about it, but if we can just keep getting that smaller and smaller, it’s a better product for the customers,” Wiedefeld said.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up