Baltimore’s subway was shut down last Friday February 9 after inspectors found 19 curves in the system which should have been removed from service months before, according to an inspection report released by the Maryland Transit Administration.
The transit agency closed the Baltimore subway system through March 11 to perform a month of emergency track repairs. The system carries approximately 40,000 trips per day.
MTA hired rail inspectors from HNTB to gather information about their subway system in advance of work planned to be performed over the summer; the inspections in February 2018 were expected to verify where issues existed and help MTA plan exactly what work they would need to get done in the rail system.
Nineteen areas of track throughout the system were found to have a Gauge Face Angle – the angle at which the rail sits below a train’s wheels – of over 26 degrees, which MTA’s manuals specifies is a “black condition.” A black condition indicates that the track is unsafe, and should be immediately removed from service. Too high of a GFA could potentially lead to a trail derailment.
The report shows that 17 of the 19 sections of track should have been classified as black condition defects after an inspection performed in November 2016; but that did not happen.
MTA says that the agency “conducts regular inspections and continually monitors rail conditions. Based on engineering evaluations and inspections conducted in 2015, it was projected that the rails would be safe for operation through Summer 2018.”
A report from the Washington Post notes that MTA is now replacing 33,000 feet of rail on the line’s above-ground segments and 6,000 feet of rail in its tunnels.