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Excessive wear, fear of derailment prompted Baltimore Metro shutdown, MTA says

The Maryland Transit Administration has released additional details about what caused the recent system-wide shutdown of Baltimore’s Metro. A report made public Thursday says there was excessive wear on the Gauge Face Angle (GFA) — a situation that can lead to derailment.

MTA had previously calculated that the city’s subway rails would be functional until this coming summer, when track replacement was planned. “We thought that the rail was going to last,” said MTA administrator Kevin Quinn.

But the five-page report by HNTB Corporation says that a January inspection revealed that various curves on the subway track were in worse shape than anticipated. In particular, the GFA — the measurement of wear that takes place on the part of the rail that touches the wheels of a train — exceeded the MTA’s standards for safety. Such wear can cause trains to derail.

The report recommended immediate emergency repairs as well as more thorough training for track inspectors.

“With safety being the key issue, we didn’t want to take a single risk,” Quinn said.

While Quinn said he understood that many MTA customers had been inconvenienced by the halt to services, he noted that the summer shutdown “was always going to be a major service disruption for our customers.”

Metro has a ridership of 40,000 each weekday, state officials say, and about 17,000 on weekends.

Quinn said the MTA continues to explore the possibility of reopening certain sections of the rail before the anticipated March 11 completion date. He encouraged customers to sign up for the organization’s news alerts and to follow MTA’s Twitter and Facebook pages to receive the latest updates.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/xtinatkacik

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