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Metro Explains Rail Car Fire

Steve Feil, Metro's chief of rail operations, told the transit authority's board of directors this morning that "the system is safe to operate" following an investigation into the cause of Sunday's rail car fire.

He said it a software problem aboard the train failed to prevent a voltage surge that built up heat in an electrical component in the undercarriage, and that led to the fire in one of the 6000 series cars, the newest in Metro's fleet. The passengers on the Green Line train were evacuated at the Waterfront-SEU Station. No injuries were reported.

With the help of the manufacturer, Alstom, Metro has fixed the software problem in most of the 190 cars that have this version, but still has more than 40 left to repair, Feil said.

That should be done by Friday or Saturday morning, since it takes half an hour or less to make the fix in each car. Because Metro has almost 1,000 cars in its fleet and because the fix can be made relatively easily, he said, there has been no effect on passenger service.

Metro has 52 of the 6000 series cars in service. The software problem is more widespread than that because Alstom also has been using it on other cars in the older 2000 and 3000 series that the company was contracted to refurbish. Alstom will pay for the software fixes, said Metro General Manager John Catoe.

Look for Lena Sun's story about this in Friday's Post.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 12, 2007; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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