Metro inspectors discovered workmanship issues in the manufacturing process in the newest series of rail car, the 7000- series, and said the issues resulted in delays in manufacturing, according to a recent internal report.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s resident inspectors discovered workmanship defects in wire crimping when they went to the Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing in Lincoln, Nebraska. The internal review took place from May 1 to June 29.
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“The manufacturers’ ability to properly control special processes such as Wire Crimping, Welding, and Painting is required to mitigate workmanship defects that lead to lengthy delays in manufacturing and can negatively impact reliability,” according to a report from the Office of Quality Assurance and Internal Compliance and Oversight dated Aug. 3.
According to the report, it will take two years to fix the workmanship issues. Kawasaki had not detected the defect, according to the report.
All 548 7000-series rail cars at Metro will need to have the wire-crimping defect fixed, which will take more than a year.
Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly said 7000-series rail cars are safe and that inspections will occur during maintenance, and not impact service. Metro will not have to pay for the retrofits because the cars are under warranty.
“We expect to resume delivery of the 7000-series rail cars later this month, with a full delivery schedule expected in September,” Ly wrote in an email.
Metro Board member Michael Goldman said he only heard about the report through news media. He was on vacation when it came out, and he had not read it. He said he was not concerned about the defects.
“I’m glad they didn’t discover it in a situation that caused safety issues or injuries to people,” Goldman said.
Metro also wrote in the report that it needs to add more-specific language to future contracts about what happens if contractors provide deficient quality workmanship.
Kawasaki was not progressing fast enough in engineering solutions to design defects in the rail cars, according to the report.
“For the shipped open items for all cars delivered in 2018, over 95% of issues were related to Engineering Open Items,” WMATA wrote. “Of this subset, over 50% had been open for over 365 days.”
Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader has said the 7000-series rail cars are the most reliable in Metro’s fleet and that as the number of 7000-series cars transporting Metro passengers has increased, the average distance a train traveled between delays has improved.
“The cars are perfectly safe,” said Ly about the 7000-series rail cars Tuesday.
Ly said the 7000-series trains travel nearly double the distance (141,386 miles) between problems that cause delays of the other series of trains combined (72,690 miles).
Metro Board Chairman and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (Ward 2) said Tuesday he did not want to talk about Metro and directed a reporter to Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel to ask questions.
Two Metro departments will cooperate to ask Kawasaki in a letter to send more inspection data on a weekly basis for the rest of the manufacturing process. The letter is scheduled to be complete by Sept. 6.
The Office of Quality Assurance and Internal Compliance and Oversight, the office responsible for the report, is independent in that employees respond directly to the general manager.
QICO conducted interviews and observation as part of the internal review, both at the manufacturing facility in Lincoln and at Kawasaki’s corporate offices in Yonkers, New York.