Metro may be closing the rail system additional weekend hours in order to affect ongoing safety issues that led to the derailment of a Silver Line train near East Falls Church station on July 29, Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said Wednesday.
Metro is in the midst of a 10-month SafeTrack project to fast track needed maintenance and safety repairs. That has led to rolling Metro section shutdowns — as well as closings at midnight (weekdays) and 10 p.m. (weekends) — in order to make repairs.
But issues continue, including the July derailment, which was likely caused by faulty interlockings on the track, Metro said. There were no major injuries, but the Silver and Orange line were disrupted for several days.
“Safety trumps service, now more than ever at Metro. The SafeTrack program is intended to make our tracks safe and reliable, and I have re-instructed the team to ensure we are addressing every issue out there, including interlockings,” Wiedefeld said in a statement. “I will continue to notify our riders of any service changes as quickly as possible, but we are not backing off of safety over service.”
Following the derailment at East Falls Church, Wiedefeld ordered a new round of inspections for all interlockings conducted by rail maintenance supervisors with track engineers participating. Those inspections have identified several interlockings that require work.
As a result, SafeTrack Surge No. 7 now includes a complete shutdown this weekend between Grosvenor and Shady Grove Stations so the interlocking at Twinbrook can be repaired. The track maintenance team is reviewing the remaining SafeTrack schedule and will consider additional weekend shutdowns during Surges 8-15 to address conditions identified by the latest inspections.
Metro is also taking several steps to improve track safety and will upgrade inspection procedures and training of personnel. Read about those changes on Metro’s website.