The return of Metro’s 7000-series railcars will pick up the pace later this month.
Metro announced Friday that beginning Sept. 12, another 12 7000-series trains, with eight cars each, will be allowed to run, bringing the total to 20 trains up from the current eight.
The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission approved the move Friday, the latest step in the return to service plan for the 7000-series cars. All 748 of the cars — representing about 60% of Metro’s fleet — were taken out of service last fall over safety concerns after a train went off the track because the wheels on the train had shifted too far apart on their axles.
“Our 7000-series trains are the newest and most reliable in Metro’s fleet, and they are key to providing the level of service our customers want and deserve,” Randy Clarke, Metro’s general manager and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Since putting some of the trains back on the tracks in June, “They have not identified any instances” of the wheels moving more than they’re designed to, said WMSC spokesman Max Smith.
The timetable for returning more cars to service “is discussed on a regular basis,” Smith said, but there’s no deadline “because that could create an artificial pressure. The focus is on having the safety procedures and processes in place that are needed.”
“We all use the system,” he said. “We wouldn’t want us or our families to be unsafe, to let (the cars) out if the data didn’t support that this is something we should be doing.”
WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.