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Posted at 06:55 AM ET, 01/26/2012

Petition calls for free Metro ride as a sign of goodwill due to Red Line mess

4:35 P.M. Update: Thursday morning’s Red Line experience was so bad one rider has started an online petition asking Metro for “a free ride for 1 day” to make up for it.

The petition says, “Because metro riders in the DC Metro area have been taken for granted for so long (unexplained delays, broken escalators, little information at stations when something occurs, etc.) that we need collective action! If Arab Spring could bring dictators to their knees - surely thousands of well informed folks from all parts of the DC Metro area can make Metro listen and treat riders with respect and come up with innovative ways to address these challenges.”

The petition says the gesture would be “A good faith effort to show WMATA is really listening.  Not just shrugging shoulders and saying ‘tough cookies, it happens.’”

12:39 P.M. Update: According to Metro, normal service has resumed on the Red Line.

The transit authority said in a statement that as of 12:30, trains were operating on both tracks between Friendship Heights and Van Ness stations.

Want to share the story of your morning commute on the Red Line? E-mail postmetrogirl@washpost.com with your name and phone number.

12:05 P.M. Update: David Kubicek, Metro’s deputy general manager of operations, said crews are working to repair a 40-foot section of rail on the inbound track between Friendship Heights and Tenleytown. The work is expected to take several hours but should be done by this evening’s rush hour, he said.

Metro said the cracked rail was found about 6:30 a.m. by a train operator and inspectors were sent to the scene. Kubicek said that section of the rail is an “older piece of rail” and is not newer rail.

Metro has been pushing an aggressive capital improvements program to replace switches and parts of rail throughout the system. 

10:05 A.M. Update: Metro says a crane is in place to begin repairs on the Red Line. However, officials said repairs will take several hours to complete, although the goal is to finish the work before the evening commute begins.

Our advice? Make some contingency plans, just in case.

9:30 A.M. Update:

Red Line riders reported big crowds and long waits this morning due to the single-tracking. Multiple riders at above-ground stations said trains held at their stops with the doors open for long periods. Travelers also reported having to wait for long stretches of time because crowded trains bound for downtown had no open space.

Delays on Metro’s Red Line will continue to slow commuters for the rest of the morning, according to Metro. They expect repairs on the broken rail near the Tenleytown station to be finished in the next “several hours,” said Metro’s chief spokesman Dan Stessel. He said repairs would be completed before the evening rush.

Trains heading downtown from the Shady Grove area also stopped at several stations for between 10 and 20 minutes at a time, while nearly empty trains passed them heading for Shady Grove.

Kazu Okumura was riding a Red Line train earlier this morning that had left Friendship Heights and was halfway to Tenleytown when he felt something hit the bottom of the car.

“All of a sudden there was this big jolt from the underside of the car,” said Okumura, 27. “It felt like something really heavy smacked the underside of the car.”

This occurred at around 6:40 a.m., Okumura said. Metro’s first tweets about a broken rail went out at 6:46 a.m.

Stessel said the broken rail was reported to Metro by a Red Line train, but he didn’t know the specifics nor if this was the same train.

Okumura, who was heading from White Flint to Metro Center, said the train operator announced that the train was holding at Tenleytown for an inspection. The train stopped at Tenleytown for about 10 to 15 minutes while two Metro employees examined it, he said. After that, it proceeded without incident.

8:30 A.M. Update:

Dana Hedgpeth reports from Friendship Heights station:

Over the span of 10 minutes at Friendship Heights four trains going to Shady Grove came through barely full while customers packed the platform. Meanwhile, trains going downtown are packed.

Joe Graham, who works downtown, said he was disappointed with how Metro seemed to be handling the situation.

“Metro does things that don’t make sense,” he said.

8 A.M. Update:

As more commuters head out to go to work, we’re getting more reports of delays and frustrations on the Red Line. One commuter reported sitting on a train at the Rockville station for 20 minutes with the doors open. Trains were reported to be holding at a few stations, with at least one traveler saying she was 30 minutes late due to the delays.

The issues seem to be having a bigger impact on the west side of the Red Line so far: One Metro rider reported no problems or delays getting from Takoma to Gallery Place.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said he didn’t know if any Red Line trains traveled over the broken rail on Thursday morning. The Tenleytown station opens at 5:09 a.m., with trains scheduled to leave for Glenmont at 5:19 a.m. and Shady Grove at 5:31 a.m. The broken rail wasn’t reported until later in the morning, with the first alert from Metro going out at 6:46 a.m.

7:20 A.M. Update:

The broken rail on the Red Line will cause delays for the rest of the morning commute as trains continue single-tracking between the Friendship Heights and Van Ness stations. Every other Red Line train will be turning back to Silver Spring at Farragut North.

The broken rail is on the inbound track in the tunnel outside of the Tenleytown station in the direction of Friendship Heights, according to spokesman Dan Stessel. He said it was reported to Metro by a passing train.

Crews were en route shortly after 7 a.m.

Original Post:

Trains are single-tracking between the Friendship Heights and Van Ness stations on the Red Line due to a broken rail near Tenleytown. Some trains are going to turn back to Silver Spring at Farragut North due to the single-tracking, according to Metro. Expect big Red Line delays during the morning commute.

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