Several rail cars on the Washington subway system have been suspended, prompting the city to suspend some rail car use
After a safety investigation revealed defects similar to recurrences of A recent derailment, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was ordered to stop using nearly 60% of its rail fleet Monday.
The subway system that runs Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland and Virginia, said without those rail cars, it will "operate about 40 trains tomorrow offering a basic service pattern on all lines of trains departing about every 30 minutes."
That schedule may result in some significant delays for rush-hour commuters. Students in Washington schools told students in a tweet to prepare for Monday's major school closures to and from school.
The suspension was triggered by an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the Oct. 12 derailment of a Blue Line WMATA train between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations.
The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission said it had ordered the 7000-series trains to be shut down no later than 5 a.m. on Sunday. Monday (0900 GMT) after the NTSB "identified safety concerns related to the spacing of wheels on 7000 Series railcar axles."
The 7000-series cars were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and its subsidiary New York-based Kawaki Rail Car Inc., which delivered the first railcars to WMATA in January 2014. A spokesman for the Washington Metro Safety Commission said the cars are manufactured by the company's subsidiary Kawaraki Light Industries in New Jersey.
The order requires the removal of those 7000-series cars from service until Metrorail develops a plan to assess the cause and provide for the detection and prevention of these wheel assembly anomalies.
The derailment of a 7000-series blue line train between the Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations in Arlington did not kill any of the 187 passengers onboard, according to WMATA.
The NTSB said late Sunday that it will hold a media briefing on Monday to discuss its investigation with chair Jennifer Homendy and Investigator-in-Charge Joe Gordon to provide an update on the matter.
WMATA will later update the public on "service for the remainder of this week."
The Washington subway system is the second-busiest in the United States, but thousands of U.S. government workers and others who normally commute each day into downtown Washington continue to work from home during the COVID-19 epidemic.
WMATA reports that subway service was 26% pre-pandemic on weekdays and nearly 50% on weekends, according to the most recent data available.