Metro’s plan to return its 7000 Series railcars to service has been approved by its safety regulator, and a gradual rollout could begin soon.
Under the plan, which was approved by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission on Tuesday, Metro would “gradually return nearly half of the 7000 Series railcars to passenger service with the metered release of no more than 336 railcars,” enough to run 42 trains, Metro said in a statement.
“From now until after the first of the year, customers may see some 7000 Series railcars transition safely back to service,” said Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld in the statement.
The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission said on Tuesday that they “have no technical objections to Metrorail’s revised plan.”
Metro is taking it slowly: After the first batch of cars comes back, it’ll take 90 days before bringing back any more, so that the new safety inspection regime can be fully implemented.
“This is part of the process that will enable Metro to announce a more definitive service plan after the first of the year,” Wiedefeld said in the statement.
The safety commission said it would be monitoring the implementation of the plan as Metro begins to return cars to service. Metro said trains would be inspected every seven days; previously, they’d been inspected every 90 days.
The cars, which comprise the majority of Metro’s fleet, have been out of service since a safety inspection after an Oct. 12 derailment that stranded Blue Line passengers in a dark tunnel near Arlington Cemetery station. A design flaw caused the wheels to spread too wide on the axles, allowing the carriage to slip off the tracks.
Wiedefeld said last week that “the 7k’s reintegration will be gradual. It will not happen all at once.”
Metro said last week it hoped the timeline for the return of the 7000 Series would be rolled out before Christmas.
Metro said last month that the reduced service would last through the end of the year.
WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez and Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.