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Metrorail cars return to service

The transit authority says it has fixed the door problems on all 100 of its 4000 Series rail cars and returned them to service.

Dave Kubicek, Metro's deputy general manager of operations, told Metro board members this month that there was no known case of the doors malfunctioning in service. But during testing, inspectors had identified a potential problem in the circuitry of the door mechanisms that could have caused them to open when the cars were moving.

That would be bad. So Metro took them all out of service July 2 to install a fix. That was certainly the right thing to do, but it meant that the Metro fleet of 1,120 cars went down by 100. On a typical day, Metro says, 60 to 70 of the 4000 Series are in service.

None of the other rail car models have the same type of door systems. The 4000 Series cars were manufactured by Breda, and most went into service in 1993. The earlier 2000 and 3000 series also were made by Breda, but they got a mid-life overhaul, during which new door mechanisms were installed.

Fixing all the cars -- or rather the 1,200 door motors on the 100 cars -- took 18 days. Metro described the process this way: A maintenance team was assigned to work on each rail car. The door motors were removed, inspected and shipped to the Greenbelt yard, where their circuitry was repaired and cleaned. Then the motors were returned to the yards where the cars were stored and reinstalled and tested before the return to service.

Now, this is what I'm talking about: Metro identified a problem -- a fairly extensive problem -- with old equipment and organized an efficient fix. Why can't we have the same sort of planning and execution for an attack on our most problematic Metro escalators?

By Robert Thomson  | July 20, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, metrorail  
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