Metro says there’s nothing to worry about after a brief a “safety stand-down” that resulted in nearly 2-out-of-10 rail cars not being available for rush-hour service Thursday morning.
The safety stand-down was begun after the union that represents Metro workers demanded that the new, 7000-series rail cars not be brought in to the rail shops for inspections. This, after a mechanic received an electrical shock last Saturday while inspecting one of the new cars. The union claims that this was the fourth incident involving 7000-series cars this year and that Metro mechanics have not been properly trained in servicing that model car. The specific concern involved the inspection of ground brushes, which are part of the train’s undercarriage. They return negative electrical current to the rails. Metro says the issue didn’t pose a hazard to passengers.
In a mid-day statement from Metro, the transit agency reported that a review of its procedures found nothing of concern. “The review, conducted with Metro engineers and engineers from the railcar manufacturer, found that the inspection procedures currently in place are appropriate and consistent with manufacturer guidelines. As such, mechanical inspections of 7000-series railcars will resume this afternoon following additional safety briefings with employees to reinforce these procedures.”
The statement also quoted Metro’s Chief Safety Officer, Patrick Lavin, as saying the stand-down was the right thing to do. “Part of creating a safety culture means taking immediate action to address concerns raised by employees. If a concern cannot be immediately resolved or requires further investigation, sometimes additional steps—such as a safety stand-down—must be taken in an abundance of caution. We encourage the reporting of safety concerns, and thank our customers for their understanding as we place safety first.”
Metro says it expects the Thursday afternoon rush hour to be relatively normal, though there may be more six-car trains than usual as the car inspection backlog is worked through and more cars are placed in service.