More than 250 Metro railcars will remain sidelined indefinitely after reviews of internal video confirmed a train door was open while an Orange Line train was in motion Sunday.
Metro trains are supposed to automatically brake and alert the train operator if a door is open as the train is attempting to move. The video suggests that did not happen.
Metro only learned of the incident more than 24 hours after it happened, through a video posted online.
It appears no one on the relatively empty car pressed the intercom to tell the operator the door was open while the train was moving, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Tuesday, and it is unclear whether the operator was aware of what happened.
A Metro employee saw the video online around 4 p.m. Monday, triggering an investigation of the cars at the West Falls Church rail yard and a notification to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. The commission sent a rail vehicle expert to help examine the cars alongside Metro’s employees and contractors.
The investigation did not immediately confirm the cause of the door slipping open, so Wiedefeld said he ordered all of the 3000 Series railcars taken out of service around 11 p.m. Monday night.
“Because any door malfunction poses a significant safety risk, I ordered the 3K fleet removed from service until further notice,” Wiedefeld said.
Metro told riders in a tweet about eight hours later that there could be some longer waits than usual and shorter trains than usual during Tuesday morning’s rush hour. Metro also turned every other Red Line train back toward downtown at Grosvenor-Strathmore during Tuesday morning’s rush.
For Tuesday afternoon, Metro returned to running all Red Line trains through to Shady Grove, and said that while some trains may be shorter than usual, the time between trains should be relatively normal going forward.
Those service impacts could continue for the rest of the week.
The investigation is looking at a number of potential causes, from mechanical problems to human error. The doors were not in an automatic operation mode.
Wiedefeld indicated the investigation has a number of promising leads, but there is no timeline for returning the 3000-Series trains to service.
“Fewer railcars will be needed for service after Saturday, when the platform project begins,” Wiedefeld said.
With all six Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Reagan National Airport closing for more than three months, Metro will have fewer trains and railcars in service each day, which means there would be no impact on riders if the 3000 Series remain out of service for an extended period.
It will not prevent Metro from extending all Yellow Line service to Greenbelt starting next week either.