Metro's Problem-Plagued Cars
Metro and the National Transportation Safety Board have not determined the cause of Sunday's derailment at Mount Vernon Square, but it's interesting to note that it involved the troublesome 5000 Series of railcars.
The transit authority bought 192 of these cars, which were the first to have the red, white and blue color scheme (although by now, many other cars also have that color scheme). They began to enter service in 2001 and last of them started running in 2004. The cars were built by CAF Inc., a Spanish manufacturer that was hoping to enter the U.S. transit market.
The cars has troubles all through the construction process, plus there were many mechanical and electronic problems once they entered service. They were involved in four derailments in less than 18 months. There was a debate within Metro over whether the design of the cars was a contributing factor, but they remained in service.
Those derailments followed a pattern: They occurred in places where the track was worn, while the train was operating at low speed and rounding a sharp bend. These were not tracks used in regular passenger service.
The Sunday derailment occurred while the train was making a low-speed crossover from one track to another, Metro said. Potentially interesting parallels there.
You can read more about Metro's problems with the CAF cars and the earlier derailments in a Post series called Off the Rails by Lyndsey Layton and Jo Becker, which you'll find on this special report page.
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