Metro is temporarily sidelining its fleet of 6000-series railcars following a train-separation incident on the Red Line Tuesday afternoon. The separation is the second since October when 6000-series cars separated outside Union Station.
“The 6000-series action was ordered due to commonalities with an incident in October in which two cars of a Red Line train became detached from a train outside Union Station,” Metro said in a statement. “While the investigation into the October incident remains ongoing, the point of separation occurred at the train’s coupler, effectively a large latch at the end of each railcar that securely connects it to adjoining cars.”
According to Metro, the incident occurred around 1 p.m. Tuesday when an 8-car train comprised of all 6000-series cars reported mechanical trouble shortly after departing Glenmont Station. The train had not yet arrived at its first stop. A subsequent investigation by the train operator checking for mechanical problems found that the first and last four cars had separated. There were no injuries among the 12 passengers aboard the train.
Max Smith, a spokesperson for the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, said the train split apart between the fourth and fifth cars. It was crossing over from one track to another. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue helped evacuate about 12 passengers.
“It was right outside the station, as it was crossing over, that this separation appears to have occurred,” Smith said to DCist. “It was only within probably a few hundred feet of the platform.”
Metro says the 6K suspension will remain in effect until investigators fully understand the underlying causes and contributing factors. Metro will accommodate riders using its remaining in-service fleets of 2000/3000-series legacy cars and newer 7000-series cars in the interim.
According to Metro, the 6000-series fleet, built by Alstom, entered service in 2006 with 184 cars delivered over the subsequent three years. The fleet is approaching “mid-life,” the 20-year milestone where railcars undergo a comprehensive overhaul. If railcars receive a mid-life reconditioning, they typically provide passenger service over a 40-year lifespan.
Metro also announced that it would contact Alstom to assist in the investigation. “Metro investigators announced they intend to engage the cars’ original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to add technical and engineering expertise for specific components that are subject to the investigation.”