Safety ‘Glitch’ Forces DC Metro To Remove Entire Fleet Of Trains From Service

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Officials from the D.C. Metro abruptly removed an entire fleet of trains from service after discovering a glitch that could give operators false speed commands Thursday evening.

Leaders from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said the issue stems from the automatic control system in all 4000 series trains. The automatic control system gives operators the maximum speed they can travel based on congestion in the system. Despite the risk being “remote,” the glitch could send trains barreling into stationary railcars at platforms or in tunnels, reports WTOP.

A similar issue led to a train collision on the red line that killed eight passengers and a Metro operator in 2009.

“Today’s action is being taken in an abundance of caution and, while we believe that the risk is small, it is a risk I am unwilling to take,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement Thursday. “Everything we do here is going to put safety first, no matter what.”

Metro officials removed all 4000 series railcars, 82 in total, from service by roughly 5:20 p.m. Thursday. The railcars make up roughly seven percent of Metro’s total fleet and will likely result in less eight car trains to ferry passengers during rush hour, reports NBC Washington.

The issue may force officials to permanently retire the trains from service. The 4000 series is an older and increasingly unreliable model at the D.C. Metro and officials planned to replace them sometime in 2017. Officials said they might consider using 4000 rail cars in the center trains, removing the threat of a system glitch for the operator.

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