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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rail-car engineers have determined onboard intercom systems are not functioning under certain conditions when the 6000-series cars are the lead car, agency officials announced yesterday.Rail car intercom signals are passed from one car to the next through a "train-line" cable, which carries audio for public announcements and intercoms, electronic commands to open and close doors, and data for LED signs.After conducting extensive diagnostic testing, the engineers determined that when 6000-series cars are at the front of a train, intercoms in 1000-series or 4000-series cars farther back on the train will not function. Engineers have been working on the issue of intercom failures for months in response to reports from riders and employees, WMATA officials said in a press release.WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Richard Sarles yesterday ordered several immediate actions to resolve the problem:• Realign cars to avoid 6000-series cars leading 1000- or 4000-series cars until technical fixes have been completed. As of the start of revenue service today, all trains were realigned and in compliance with that order, agency officials said.• Install new control panel components in the 184 6000-series cars. WMATA already has parts on hand for the first 20 cars, and expects to be able to fix all the cars within 45 days. The 4000-series cars will require a software upgrade and a timetable for that work has not yet been determined, agency officials said.• Enhance inspections by having WMATA safety officers conduct spot-checks of onboard intercoms while trains are in service.• Fully review the diagnostic process to determine whether the issue should have been detected sooner.
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