- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2021

A week ago, the wheels of a 7000 Series Metrorail car on the Blue Line did not want to cruise along, so it jumped the track. Blessedly, nobody was seriously hurt.

However, by Monday, federal and local transit authorities had pulled the plug, and it’s a good thing they did.

Metro riders and Metro workers will be inconvenienced for a bit, but as the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

Just a few years ago, Metro officials and transit aficionados were bragging about how safe and improved the subway is because of the 7000 Series railcars.

“The list of initiatives we laid out in October 2016 for returning Metro to a safe, reliable and customer friendly transit system was admittedly aggressive,” said General Manager Paul Weidefeld. “But I’m happy to report that today we are making progress on many of the key issues our riders say impact their experience the most.

“A great example is our new 7000 Series railcars. They look better, they ride better, they sound better, but most importantly to our riders, they work better,” the general manager proclaimed. “In 2017, our goal is to add a new 7000 Series car every business day. The addition of these beautiful state-of-the-art transit cars is already reducing the number of breakdowns we experience. So as the number of new cars go up, our maintenance issues go down.”

Well, either Metro over-promised on the 7000 Series or Metro crews failed to deliver.

“What’s significant for us — along with other issues — is that the derailment just south of Rosslyn was the last of at least three known derailments of train 407 that that train experienced that day,” National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy said Monday at a press conference.

There’s not been much chatter from the Metro Board; local leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virginia; and Metro-affiliated unions.

Not surprising. Nobody has specified human error and nobody has jumped the gun to demand that Mr. Wiedefeld be fired — considering he was the board’s second choice and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had fired him from BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport.

So Metro’s passengers and overseers escaped a really big one. Three derailments, same day.

Thank goodness there were no corpses, no mangled bodies, no bloody rescues.

Still, Metro leadership can’t afford to pretend it doesn’t have a problem. The trains have spoken and the federal experts have spoken.

Metro has to fix the 7000 Series problem — with all deliberate expertise and speed.

• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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