7000-Series Return to Service Update

Advisory Effective: 1/16/22 - 12/31/23

To find out the current frequency of metrorail service, visit our Rail Timetables page.

Metro's Trip Planner has been updated to reflect the latest service schedule. Customers are also encouraged to use the live train map to see the locations of trains on each line. In-station next train signs (Passenger Information Displays) provide accurate train arrival estimates.

Need additional information? Message Customer Care, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. (except holidays), Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Twitter @Metrorailinfo or Live Chat. Follow us on @Metrorailinfo and @Metrobusinfo for the latest changes as they happen.

Safety Blog

Safety of the 7000-Series rail cars
A Q&A from our Chief Safety Officer, Theresa M. Impastato & Chief Operating Officer, Brian Dwyer

Watch a collection of recorded media briefings on our YouTube page.

Actions Taken

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Metro began working with NTSB and the WMSC to determine the cause of the Blue Line derailment at Arlington Cemetery; that investigation is still ongoing.

To date, the investigation has found no evidence of failures related to maintenance or manufacturing of the equipment. Below is a timeline of events that detail Metro's efforts from the October 13, 2021 derailment through today:

  • On April 12, 2023, the WMSC concurred with Metro's Final Return to Service plan. Read the DRAFT document.
  • On Jan. 20, 2023, the WMSC concurred with Metro's 7000-series Phase 3 Return to Service plan. The move to Phase 3 will allow us the ability to move from a 4 to 7-day inspection interval. We expect to provide further details on service levels in the near future.
  • On January 16, 2023 WMSC issued a stay of their rail operator training directive, preventing service cuts that Metro announced earlier in the day. Link to release.
  • On January 16, 2023 Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer and the WMATA Board Directors held an 11 a.m. virtual press conference to announce formally filed petitions and reduced Blue, Orange, and Silver line service for customers, extending train frequencies from 25 minutes through Sunday, Jan. 22. Read FAQs here.
  • On January 16, 2023 Metro filed two formal petitions within the WMSC appealing the directives related to 7000-series Return to Service plan and Train Operating training. Metro is still reviewing the email related to RWP to get more clarity and understand from the WMSC regarding the directive.
  • On January 13, 2023 Within minutes of Metro announcing enhancements to rail operator training, the WMSC sent three separate emails. Train Operator Deficiencies. Additional Action for 7ks. Roadway Worker Protection Training Deficiencies.
  • On January 13, 2023 Metro publicly announced enhancing rail operator training following internal safety investigation. Link to Release.
  • On January 5, 2023 Metro contacted the WSMC requesting permission to move to Phase 3 of its Return to Service Plan, which would allow Metro to move from a 4-day wheel inspection interval to a 7-day wheel inspection interval. Additional Actions for 7ks.
  • On October 25, the WMSC concurred with Metro's revised railcar return to service plan which allows for more 7Ks to be placed into passenger service.
  • On October 19, Metro disseminated a press release stating the Silver Line extension is operationally ready to open for passenger service by Thanksgiving, but the opening date rests with WMSC's concurrence on both Silver Line safety certification and new 7K return to service plan. Read 7K blog for additional insight from Metro Chief Safety Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
  • On October 17, Metro received a letter that the revised Phase 3 service plan did not receive concurrence due to technical objections to the plan.
  • On October 13, Metro provided a plan revision based on the WMSC's request.
  • On October 11, the WMSC notified Metro Phase 3 did not receive concurrence due to technical objection from the WMSC citing "lack of data" to support changing multiple variables at once.
  • On September 28, Metro submitted its Phase 3 return to service plan requesting the following:
    • All 748 7000-series railcars for passenger service (first time since October 2021)
    • 7000-series trains in service on all rail lines
    • Protocols to measure wheels every seven days
  • On September 2, with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission's concurrence, Metro updated its return to service plan allows the agency to safely operate up to 20 of its 7000-series trains per day, up from the current limit of eight trains. [Read the Return-to-Service Plan | Memo]
  • On June 16, Metro began Phase 1 of our return to service plan for the 7000-series railcars. Since May 19, Metro staff have been focused on training inspectors on the required processes which includes daily back-to-back wheel measurements using a digital gauge. Metro conducted a number of pre-operational test exercises with inspectors to ensure a smooth launch of the new process. Phase 1 of our plan returns up to 8 trains to service each day. We are actively working on Phases 2 and 3 of our return to service plan which require approval from the WMSC to incorporate the use of Automated Wayside Inspection System Equipment into the inspection process.
  • On May 19, Metro submitted its 7000-series Return-to-Service Plan to the WMSC. That same day, the WMSC informed Metro that the plan was accepted, and they had no technical objections to the revised plan as submitted. Please Note: The Return-to-Service Plan does not include the use of the automatic wayside inspection systems. [ Read Return-to-Service Plan]
  • On May 19, Metro announced the first automated inspection system to test wheelsets of the 7000-series railcars in real-time was installed. The schedule to restore the fleet to passenger service later this summer remains on time. Additionally, Metro revealed the root-cause analysis has not yet pinpointed a derailment cause, but experts at MxV Rail (formerly known as TTCI) are working as part of the investigation, conducting spin tests and ultrasonic tests that look at vibration and wheel performance at various speeds and conditions to determine what combination of issues have to be addressed. To date, the investigation has found no evidence of failures related to maintenance or manufacturing of the equipment.
  • On March 24, Metro updated the board and public that outside experts MxV Rail (formerly known as Transportation Technology Center, Inc. or TTCI) continue to lead the independent root cause investigation. Metro is in the design and execution stage of four static and three dynamic tests to recreate specific operational conditions, driven by the data analysis, with static testing starting in April at the wheel manufacturer (ORX) facility in Pennsylvania. The root cause appears to be a combination of factors. Metro is currently working with WSMC to receive approval for daily inspection of 7000-series trains using a digital gauge to measure performance.
    [ Read letter to WMSC | 7K Path to Restoration presentation]
  • On January 12, Metro announced 7000-series trains will remain out of passenger service for about 90 days to allow engineering and mechanical experts time to focus on the root cause of the derailment and acquire new technology to measure 7000-series wheelsets.
  • On December 29, 2021, Metro removed all 7000-series railcars from passenger service at the request of the WMSC. Metro, alongside the WMSC, is revising some of its inspection protocols to ensure all trains meet the safety guidelines established for passenger service.
  • On December 23, 2021, Metro voluntarily paused the introduction of additional 7000-series railcars into passenger service. After reviewing a recommendation from outside experts MxV Rail (formerly TTCI), former Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld determined a new regimen of daily inspections were needed before current railcars could be placed into passenger service. The WMSC had no objections to Metro's new inspection procedure.
  • On December 14, 2021, Metro was informed by the WMSC it has no technical objections to the final plan submitted to gradually return nearly half of the 7000-series railcars to passenger service with the metered release of no more than 336 railcars.
  • On November 17, 2021, Metro demonstrated wheelset measurements inspections. [ Watch Wheelset Inspection Video]
  • On November 8, 2021, Metro began testing two weighted 7000-series trains in the system to determine inspection intervals.
  • On November 4, 2021, Metro submitted a test plan to the WMSC for acceptance. [ Read test plan letter]
  • On October 28, 2021, wheelset inspections were completed on all 7000-series railcars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Background: On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Metro, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) launched an investigation into the Blue Line derailment that occurred on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery Stations.

The investigation is ongoing, and the following questions provide the most up-to-date information to ensure the public is informed.

Why does the Final Return to Service Plan say Draft?
It was approved April 12, but will need to be circulated for final signatures. This process will be finalized in the coming weeks.

Are there other phases in the Final plan?
Yes, there will be other phases related to a longer measurement period in the final RTS plan.

What does concurrence for the final RTS Plan and ATO mean?
Final RTS - We are able to move from 7-day measurements to 15-day measurements with an eye towards extending our measurement period in the future.
ATO - We can begin integrated testing on the RED line

Will older model railcars continue to be used for service?
Yes, the legacy fleet has been well-maintained and continues to provide safe, reliable service to customers.

Are there any updates on new technology used to measure the 7000-series wheelsets?
Yes, Metro is working to implement track technology that will replace the manual process that uses a digital gauge to measure 7000-series wheelsets. This technology will allow Metro to take measurements as trains pass by wayside inspection stations.

Are drive-through technologies being used to measure 7000-series railcars today?
We are not currently using drive-through technology as an official inspection unit for 7000-series railcars; however, we are still calibrating the technology in preparation for future use.

Who designed the Automated Wayside Inspection System?
KLD Labs and Wayside Inspection Devices (WID) are installing Metro's AWIS system. KLD specifically designs and produces the system that conducts back-to-back wheel measurements.

How does the AWIS system work?
The automated system is designed to take a picture of the train wheels and use data to measurements to determine if any changes have occurred. Measurements are transferred to a database that staff can access. The system will alert Metro staff if wheel measurements change.

Who is MxV Rail (formerly known as Transportation Technology Center, Inc.)?
MxV Rail (formerly Transportation Technology Center, Inc.) is an independent consultant Metro hired to help with its root cause analysis following the derailment. They are assisting in the review of performance data alongside our Safety and Operations groups to advise on prudent next steps for a safe return of the entire 7000-series railcar fleet.

What is MxV Rail reviewing?
As MxV Rail continuously reviews data, it is considering multiple paths in their root cause analysis. The pause of the 7000-series trains from passenger service allowed Metro to perform daily inspections to gather more data to help inform their analysis.

For more information on Metro releases, click here.