DC Metro Suspends 7000-Series Kawasaki Cars

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VentureForth

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jis

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Metro’s announcement came the same day officials with the National Transportation Safety Board detailed their initial findings into the derailment, saying it appeared the train went off the track at least three times Oct. 12, including in a tunnel near the Rosslyn station, because the wheels on the train had shifted too far apart on their axles.
Wheels move around on the axle? Wow!
 

George Harris

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Since I spent my first six years of transit system engineering up through the first segment operating watching how WMATA has performed over the years comes close to watching a child with great promise turning into a druggie.
Metro’s announcement came the same day officials with the National Transportation Safety Board detailed their initial findings into the derailment, saying it appeared the train went off the track at least three times Oct. 12, including in a tunnel near the Rosslyn station, because the wheels on the train had shifted too far apart on their axles.
This seems to be backward for two reasons: First, lateral forces from curves and impact would more logically drive wheels inward on the axle. Second, to derail from the wheels being squeezed up to go over the top of the rail which would be the case for the wheel moving outward seems less likely than the wheels dropping inside the rail from the wheel moving inward. The exception being, if the wheels moved outward the wheel would be more likely to "pick" a switch point in a facing move and come down on the wrong side, thereby allowing the wheels to drop inside the rails as the outside rail spread in the turnout. Since the WMATA turnouts have undercut switch points, "picking" the point is less likely than with the knife blade point more commonly used, particularly in the past. Did these derailment occur at turnouts?
 

Ryan

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From what I've read, yes. I'm foggy on the details because I can't remember where I read it, but something to the effect of the previous times going through a switch one way caused the wheel to come off, and then going through the corresponding switch in the other direction somehow rerailed the wheel. This final time, there wasn't a second switch, so it drug long enough for the operator to realize they had derailed.
 

daybeers

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I've been following this closely. Yet another safety incident over the many WMATA has had over the past 20 years that could have been much, much worse. There's more substantial evidence WMATA knew about the issues with the cars and swept them under the rug, just add it to the pile showing WMATA is incompetent and the management is awful. Workers didn't want to speak up about the issues when the cars arrived five years ago because they were fearful of retaliation.

While I sympathize with those criticizing advocates bashing WMATA at this time, this is after pouring billions and billions into their PR-laden "SafeTrack" 5-6 years ago along with "#Back2Good" more recently and Platform Improvement Projects, it all means nothing if the work isn't getting done, the service isn't reliable and not frequent enough in the first place, and the culture of management is oppressive and indifferent. Every weeknight and weekend they reduce frequencies and reliability to an unusable degree. They are still wasting millions on surface cleaning stations, which sometimes includes cleaning after a passenger is diagnosed with COVID. This happened a couple weeks ago...but not before WMATA delayed it. What's the point?

It's not that people don't want WMATA to succeed, we desperately want it to, but after being failed by it time after time, another hashtag isn't going to change anything. They literally expect four derailments in the upcoming budget. Maybe they could, hmm, not charge peak fares this week? Or provide extra bus service?

Oh, but all those feds are still WFH so the 30-minute headways that have actually been more like 45-60 are okay since nobody's riding! Give me a break.
 

MARC Rider

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According to the article, they detected 2 failures of the wheel assemblies in 2017, 4 failures in 2019 and 5 failures in 2020, this year so far they've detected 18 failures. They are also "working with Kawasaki" on fixing the problem. Clearly, they were trying to do something about the problem, but trying to do it quietly. It obviously didn't work out the way they wanted, and now the entire fleet, which represents 60 percent of the Metro rolling stock, is sidelined. Not sure what should have been done when the issue was first identified. This makes me glad I'm not retired and don't have to ride these, but I have a doctor's appointment in DC in a couple of weeks, and I hope they get stuff fixed, or I'll be taking the bus from Union Station.
 

Ryan

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Risk involves assessing likelihood and consequence. If this happened 29 times and nobody noticed, that's an indicator that the consequence of it happening isn't "massive derailment and everyone dies".
 

dwebarts

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As someone who lives "inside the Beltway" and doesn't have a car, I will need to deal with this. At least I don't need to commute to work.

I do need to go to Tysons on Friday, so I'll see how things are going at that time. Taking bus routes to Tysons would be on the order of 3 hours with several transfers, so dealing with the old train cars it is.
 

neroden

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I will note that famous incompetent Thomas Downs (former Amtrak President who almost put it into bankruptcy, before which he botched the DC Union Station rebuild) was the *chair* of the WMATA board as recently as 2015, which leads me to doubt the competence of anyone on the former board. While I think the newest (post scandal) board members are probably better, the system has been run by known incompetents for a long, long time.

I am more concerned about something going wrong at Kawasaki, which really had a solid reputation. How could they mess up wheelsets? I hope this is corrected quickly without bankrupting Kawasaki.
 
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George Harris

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Yes, systems do coverups. I have been involved briefly more than once on trying to develop solutions to fix deficiencies due to either design or maintenance issues that the agency has to fix. These being on systems other than the ones I talk about. The first thing the agency does is always to get everyone involved to sign a nondisclosure agreement so when, where, and who is not being said, other than they were on systems where vehicles ran on rails and was located somewhere between the north pole and the south pole. I will say that anytime a contractor offers wonderful savings through a "Value Engineering" change, be very careful that you are not saving $10.00 in construction cost and getting a $10,000.00 reduction in the quality of the product. To give obvious examples would be to say to much.
 

Bob Dylan

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My regular red line trains have been pretty darn full during the PM rush. AM rush they're more crowded but not nearly as bad as the PM. I've started taking MARC instead in the afternoons.
Wish I could have ridden MARC and/or VRE during my DC Days, but it was strictly Metro Trains and/or Buses for me!
 

Danib62

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I'd much rather have my normal commute. Didn't have to worry about checking a schedule. I also need to connect to a bus to get the rest of the way home from MARC but I'm walking distance from my usual metro stop.
 

dwebarts

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My regular red line trains have been pretty darn full during the PM rush. AM rush they're more crowded but not nearly as bad as the PM. I've started taking MARC instead in the afternoons.
Red line riders are used to crowds, aren't we? At least they didn't stick us with the 30-40 minute gap between trains like the other lines.
 

Danib62

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Pre-pandemic I was a green/yellow line rider. Thankfully never had to deal with the red. Normally I’m fine with a crowd but would rather not deal with it during the pandemic.
 
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