Washington Metro Retiring Oldest Railcars Early

The 1000- and 4000-series railcars are being removed from service by July 1. They are being replaced by more reliable 7000-series railcars, which averaged more than 176,000 miles between delays in April, while the 4000-series cars traveled an average of only 27,259 miles between delays in 2016.

The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority, the agency that provides transit services in the Washington, D.C., region, has completed its SafeTrack accelerated rail maintenance program this month and also announced that all of its 1000- and 4000-series railcars, the oldest and least-reliable railcars in its fleet, will be permanently removed from passenger service by July 1, months ahead of Metro's original projections.

SafeTrack involved 16 "safety surges" where sections of the rail system were shut down for around-the-clock repair work. The overall maintenance program significantly expanded maintenance time on weekends, weeknights, and midday hours.

The agency reported that, with the support of state and local officials in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, it completed three years' worth of track work during the past 12 months and replaced more than 50,000 wooden crossties.

The railcars are being replaced by more reliable 7000-series railcars, which WMATA says offer improved service and fewer and delays. The 7000-series cars averaged more than 176,000 miles between delays in April, while the 4000-series cars traveled an average of only 27,259 miles between delays in 2016. "By retiring the last of our oldest and least-reliable railcars, we will be in a much better position to deliver more reliable service for our customers," said Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. "We have already seen the positive results of this effort in the form of fewer railcar-related delays and fewer offloads."

Metro said replacing the 1000-series with safer 7000-series cars also responds to an open recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board.

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