Metro is pulling all its 6000-series railcars from service after a train separated on the Red Line. The event bears similarities with another recent separation, the agency said in a statement.
“The 6000-series action was ordered due to commonalities with an incident in October in which two cars of a Red Line train became detached from a train outside Union Station,” Metro said.
Metro said all the cars were expected to be removed by Tuesday night, and the suspension would continue indefinitely amid an investigation.
The transit authority said customers should expect “minimal” impact, because newer 7000-series cars comprise the majority of the rail system’s fleet.
Max Smith, spokesperson for the government oversight agency the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, said the train split apart between the fourth and fifth cars as it was crossing over from one track to another. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue helped evacuate about 12 passengers, he said.
“It was right outside the station, as it was crossing over, that this separation appears to have occurred,” he said. “It was only within probably a few hundred feet of the platform.”
Metro said there were no injuries and that an emergency brake engaged as it was designed to in the event of a separation.
Last month, another train separated on the Red Line, triggering another temporary pause in service for the 6000-series cars. In that incident, 103 passengers had to be evacuated near Union Station. A WMSC review found that an improperly torqued bolt was the cause of that train’s cars coming apart.
Smith said the WMSC supported the decision to remove the 6000-series cars from service and anticipated an investigation could take months.
Metro says the 6000-series car entered service in D.C. in 2006, with 184 cars delivered over three years. It says most railcars can be used for 40 years, although they require mid-life repairs and maintenance. Metro says it will it contact the manufacturer of the cars as it investigates.
The agency has suffered plummeting ridership during the pandemic: it has about 10 million riders a quarter compared to about 79 million riders a quarter before COVID. That has left it with a budget gap of nearly $250 million through the rest of this fiscal year, which ends in June 2021. The shortfall will likely expand if localities strapped for cash cannot pay their share of the agency’s subsidy.
(dcist, photo via Shutterstock)