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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 06:41 PM ET, 07/20/2011

Metro adds staff to prepare for heat wave

Metro is preparing for near-record summer temperatures over the next three days by deploying extra staff to deal with potential heat-related problems.

Spokesman Dan Stessel said there will be “enhanced track inspections” with additional personnel “walking and riding” on the tracks to “look for signs of any heat-related kinks.”

The “kinks,” where the alignment of tracks can actually shift, tend to happen during extreme heat or when there are significant swings in temperature.

“If there’s any defect in the track you don’t want to operate trains over it for safety reasons,” Stessel said. “We’re trying to get out ahead of it. If we detect it early enough there’s a greater opportunity we’ll be able to repair it before the next rush hour.”

Metro has been sharply criticized by riders for track problems and other issues that lead to delays recently, often during rush hour.

Stessel said there will also be additional staff to respond to elevators and escalators that may go out of service.

On Wednesday evening, he said Metro personnel responded within 30 minutes to a broken escalator at the Bethesda stop and fixed it in 15 minutes.

Stessel said Metro will also be have 40 “car maintenance inspectors” stationed around the system to respond to reports of inoperative air conditioning on rail cars. To report hot cars, he said, riders should use the intercom on trains to report the car number to the train operator or report the issue to a station manager.

Using the extra personnel will require paying some overtime, but Stessel said it is “not an extraordinary expense.”

“We’re trying to go above and beyond what we’d do on a 72-degree day,” he said.

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By  |  06:41 PM ET, 07/20/2011

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