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Kawasaki Rail takes action to prevent train derailment in the Washington metro

3 February 2022
Reading time ~ 3 min
A Kawasaki Rail 7000 series subway train at West Hyatsville Station in Washington Metro
A Kawasaki Rail 7000 series subway train at West Hyatsville Station in Washington Metro. Source: Elvert Barnes,
Belov Sergey, Editor-in-Chief, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 3 min
Litvintsova Olga, Editor of International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

USA: The Japanese manufacturer said it will acquire technology to automatically measure the wheelsets of its 7000-series trains, which make up about 60% of the metro fleet. These steps were taken after the derailment of the wheelset of one of the cars in October 2021. Recently, the public transport administration of the US capital, WMATA extended the decommissioning of all 7000 series cars for other 90 days.

Operation of eight-car Kawasaki Rail trains was first suspended on October 18 by order of the Washington Metro Safety Commission (WMSC) as part of an investigation into an October 12 incident between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that one of the fourth car’s wheels derailed after the train passed several turnouts. The train traveled this way for about 500 meters, after which it stopped in a tunnel. The derailment occurred due to the shift of the wheels by a distance of about 5 cm beyond the axle.

WMATA also reported that similar incidents have occurred before and every year their number has grown. So, if in 2017-2020 these problems arose no more than 5 times a year, then last year there were 39 such incidents.

Assembling a Kawasaki Rail bogie in Yonkers, USA Assembling a Kawasaki Rail bogie in Yonkers, USA. Photo: Ken Stabil,

In December, WMATA, in accordance with a plan approved by the WMSC, began to gradually return the 7000-series cars in operation. According to the plan, no more than 336 cars were to enter service, each of which had to undergo a technical inspection every week instead of the required three months, as previously. However, on December 29, the commission decided to recall the cars that had previously returned to the metro because of their non-compliance with the verification criteria.

The Washington Metro fleet has 748 7000-series cars, which is almost 60% of the total rolling stock operated by the metro. WMATA ordered the railcars from Kawasaki Rail in 2013 and they began entering service in 2015.

In March 2021, it became known that another Japanese manufacturer, Hitachi Rail, would supply the new generation of 8000-series trains to Washington. It received a $2.2 bln contract from WMATA for a base supply of 256 railcars, with 800 more as options.