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Less than a month after the first batch of 7000-series Metro cars returned to service, they're on hold again

WMATA says it is pulling the cars out of service for "a couple of days" for inspections.

WASHINGTON — The saga surrounding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)'s 7000-series Metro trains continues.

WMATA said on Wednesday that the eight 7000-series trains brought back into service last month are being withheld from service again while the transportation officials adjust the railcars for daily inspections.

On June 15, WMATA announced that eight 7000-series trains with about 64 cars would return to tracks on the Green and Yellow lines. 

Once there is a safe and steady rhythm of inspections of eight full trains daily, WMATA said in June, the additional cars should help increase service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines to every 15 minutes in July.  

Metro says the latest pause will not impact riders, and the temporary stoppage will help in the long run.

"This will prevent the data backlog we experienced last week and ensure we can ramp up to eight trains into service daily, in full compliance with our safety process. There will be no impact to service levels for customers," WMATA said in a tweet Wednesday.

The cars, representing 60% of Metro's total fleet, have been out of service since the derailment of a Blue Line railcar in October 2021, when 200 people had to evacuate a train. The incident led to the D.C. Metrorail Safety Commission ordering Metro to pull nearly 60% of its rail fleet from service.  

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the incident could have been "catastrophic." 

While investigating the derailment, NTSB found that an axle of the railcar that derailed was "out of compliance with the 7000 Series specifications for the wheel and axle assembly," according to an order issued by the WMSC.

In May, WMATA said the 7000-series cars were on track to return to service in the summer. 

"Since May 19, Metro has been focused on training inspectors on the required safety processes which include daily back-to-back wheel measurements using a digital gauge," WMATA said in a press release. "Metro conducted a number of pre-operational test exercises with inspectors to ensure a smooth launch of the new process."

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