Metro employees report issues with the system’s newest cars and the safety culture within the agency as major service cuts continue a week after a train derailed.
Metro withdrew 60% of its cars from service Sunday night after a train derailed on the blue line on October 12. One person was taken to hospital and scores of others could have been injured or killed, federal security investigators said on Monday. Metro has been aware of wheel issues in its 7000 series trains since 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
Metro employees who asked not to be identified told News4 they had known about issues with the 7000 series wagons for years. They said they were afraid in many cases to tell their managers, for fear of retaliation.
A nearly 20-year Metro veteran made this chilling statement about a serious lack of safety culture at Metro:
“They took a gamble with people’s lives, and God forbid, that wasn’t what Metro workers thought could have happened. Metro workers are so afraid of another catastrophic incident like the incident they had before where the train operator actually lost his life.
The Metro employee was referring to the 2009 Red Line crash in which nine people, including a train operator, were killed when a high-speed train crashed into a stopped train.
A Metro source said the derailed train was likely pulling a wagon with its wheels locked and not even turning. This wagon was essentially dragged on the rails, with some of its wheels near or on the ground. Parts of the wheels were torn when the car was pulled over the rails.
Kawasaki, the maker of the railcars, did not respond to a survey.
Metro trains that remain in service should run every 30 minutes on most lines, even at peak times. Red line trains will run every 15 minutes. Service cuts will be in effect at least until Sunday.