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.
Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.