Following a derailment last October, all of the 7000-series trains were taken off the tracks—almost 60 percent of Metro’s fleet. A year later, only 16 of the trains have been reintroduced. According to a WMATA press release, there aren’t enough railcars to open Phase 2 of the Silver Line without causing delays to other service. A Metro spokesperson says they need at least eight more trains before opening the extension.
— Alex Bradley (@AlexAtWonk) October 18, 2022
Metro has approval to operate 20 of the 7000-series trains at a time, but the spokesperson said that the rules the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) have laid out make it impossible to run more railcars. WMSC has instructed Metro to inspect any 7000-series trains that carry passengers every four days, but Metro’s spokesperson says that isn’t enough time to check more than 16 trains.
In an effort to get the Silver Line extension opened, Metro submitted Phase 3 of their Return to Service plan, which included a proposal to require inspections every seven days instead of four, but WMSC rejected it.
The next steps may be unsatisfactory for those eagerly anticipating new Metro service to Dulles airport for Thanksgiving travel. Metro will continue to communicate with WMSC to determine how to get more 7000-series trains back in action. Until the two entities agree on a plan to reintroduce more railcars, it looks like the Silver Line extension will remain out of reach.