Metrorail Service & Derailment Investigation Update

Advisory Effective: 10/18/21 - 12/31/21

As of Monday, November 22, 2021 Metrorail service will operate as follows:

  • Red Line trains run every 12 minutes
  • Green Line and Yellow Line trains run every 20 minutes
  • Blue Line, Orange Line, and Silver Line trains run every 24 minutes
  • Silver Line service has resumed between Wiehle-Reston East and Largo Town Center

Metro will continue to operate at reduced service levels through at least December 31 and will advise the public of any additional service improvements should more trains become available.

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) are providing accurate train arrival estimates.

As Metro continues to work closely with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and NTSB and more information develops, we will update the public about service.

Need additional information? Message Customer Care, Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm, through Twitter @Metrorailinfo or Live Chat


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

 

Actions Taken

WMATA started working with NTSB and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission last week to determine the cause of the Blue Line derailment at Arlington Cemetery; that investigation is still ongoing.

Because safety remains our number one priority, we have removed all 7000-series railcars from service to properly inspect the fleet. 

These actions are being taken out of an abundance of caution. 

  • We understand the impact this decision has on transportation for the DMV area (National Capital Region). We apologize for this reduction in service and the inconvenience this is causing our customers.  
  • As customers experience delays and full rail cars during their commute, please know we have made a concerted effort to improve airflow. Face masks continue to be required throughout the system, and Metrorail cars recycle the air approximately every three minutes
  • We want the public to know we are committed to their safety and will continue to release updates as we receive them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Background: On Wednesday, October 13, 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, 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.

When will the 7000-series rail cars return to service?

After completing a full inspection of the 7000-series rail car fleet, Metro has been working with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) and 7000-series manufacturer Kawasaki on a test plan that will bring Metro one step closer to safety returning these cars to passenger service. Metro started this process by submitting a formal letter presenting a test plan to the WMSC on November 4; read a copy of the letter.

Why is the Blue Line investigation still ongoing?

The Blue Line investigation will continue until Metro and our safety partners understand the full extent of the October 12 derailment, and begin to determine what actions are needed to prevent a similar incident from occurring. Metro, NTSB, FTA and WMSC are all committed to safety. Anytime a rail or bus incident occurs, Metro investigates the cause to determine what steps are needed to improve the system and ensure our customers’ safety. In this incident, NTSB is the lead investigative agency.

Why are other organizations involved in the investigation?

NTSB, WMSC and FTA have jurisdiction over investigations and safety practices that govern our operations. All participating agencies have a vested interest in understanding the root cause of this incident and ensuring changes are implemented to uphold the integrity of the system.

What has the investigation revealed?

While the investigation is ongoing, the wheel assembly on our 7000-series railcars is suspected to be a factor in the October 12 derailment, an issue WMATA had been working with Kawasaki, maker of the 7000-series cars, to resolve since 2017.

When did the 7000-series car enter Metro’s fleet?

There are a total of 748 7000-series railcars. The first four pilot railcars were delivered to Metro on January 6, 2014. The first 7000-series trains went into service on April 14, 2015. The last railcars were delivered February 26, 2020.

How often did Metro conduct inspections of the 7000-series car?

Metro’s 7000-series railcars are inspected on an ongoing basis as part of our preventive maintenance program. Over a four-year period, thousands of inspections were conducted. In any instances when wheelsets were found out of tolerance, the trainset was removed from service and the wheelsets were replaced before the cars were put back in passenger service.

What are you doing to ensure the 7000-series rail car is safe?

We have pulled all the 7000-series railcars from service and completed an inspection of the entire fleet – 748 cars. We continue to work with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) and 7000-series manufacturer Kawasaki to resolve any wheel tolerance issues and safely return these cars to passenger service. 

What did the inspections find?

The 7000-series inspections took a week and a half. Of the approximate 3,000 axels wheels inspected, we found 20 axles to be out of alignment. On November 4, Metro has submitted to the WMSC a test plan that will safely release the 7000-series rail cars back into passenger service.

Is it safe to ride Metro?

Yes, it is safe to ride Metro. Our actions are evidence that we put safety first.

Will there continue to be delays in service?

As the investigation continues, customers can expect less frequent service since less than 40 percent of Metro’s fleet is operating. Rail is running every 12-24-minutes until otherwise stated. We will continue to keep customers updated on information related to rail and bus services at the top of this page.

Will trains be more frequent?

Throughout December, trains will be added as each set of railcars become ready for passenger service. This will improve reliability and, ultimately frequency, recognizing that we are placing into service some 40-year old cars that may require additional attention and maintenance.
 
When can we expect service to improve?

Until we return the 7000-series railcars to service, which make up approximately 60 percent of the fleet, Metro will continue to operate at a reduced frequency. A test plan is underway to ensure we can safely resume operating 7000-series trains; however, it is imperative that we allow the testing process to continue with a full and thorough review before determining a date to return the cars to passenger service.

How can I find the most up-to-date information?

Customers are encouraged to sign up for MetroAlerts text or email messages to receive the latest service information, follow us on Twitter @MetrorailInfo, message Customer Care @Metrorailinfo or Live Chat from 7am-7pm, or check the weekday Metrorail service adjustments on wmata.com.

Additional Information