Red Line delays cleared after several hours

Updated at 2:50 p.m.

Metro reports that normal service has resumed on the Red Line following delays that started about 7 a.m.

Updated at 1:25 p.m.

Metro said trains on the Red Line were starting to run on both tracks after nearly seven hours of trains sharing single tracks.

Crews are working to resolve a morning rush-hour problem that involved a piece of track equipment.

Metro said delays continue in both directions.

Updated at 12:15 p.m.

Five hours after morning rush-hour headaches for commuters, Metro officials said at noon that it is not clear whether the trouble on the Red Line will be fixed in time for the evening rush hour.

As of noon, crews were on the scene in the tunnel between Medical Center and Grosvenor on the outbound track.

Metro did not move heavy equipment it needed to fix the problem until 10 a.m., after the morning rush hour because officials said it would have “exacerbated already lengthy delays,” according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

He said crews were working to replace two power cables and 20 insulators, which are a part on the track that keeps electricity from the third rail away from other parts. If a bolt, or other part, on the insulator is loose or has another problem, it can create smoke.

That section of the Red Line is well known among Metro engineers as being particularly problematic for having troubles with water infiltration.

Stessel said the incident was first reported by a train operator after he drove through the area. He reported steam coming from the insulators.

“Water conducts electricity,” Stessel said. “The same reason you don’t throw a hair dryer into the tub.

“If it is humid or water is dripping or it is a wet or moist environment that can cause an electrical current to deviate from the proper path,” Stessel said. “That can cause arcing, a short circuit and other issues.”

Update at 11:12 a.m.

Trains continue to share a track on the Red Line between Grosvenor and Medical Center stations, as crews are working to fix a piece of track where there was an earlier problem. The trouble began around 7 a.m. with an arcing insulator.

Metro officials said there are continued delays in both directions as of 10:42 a.m. in their social media update.

Update at 9:55 a.m.

Delays continue for riders on the Red Line due to an earlier incident that involved a problem with a piece of track equipment.

All five of Metro’s lines had some problem during Monday morning’s rush hour, but the Red Line delays continued to linger throughout the morning. Riders reported delays of up to 30 minutes.

Another issue arose on the Red Line at 9:42 a.m. when a Glenmont-bound train at Medical Center was off-loaded because of a door problem.

Metro officials said the troubles on its rail lines are not related to any of the weekend track work it did over the last few days.

In an e-mail, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said “there have been delays worth noting on the Red and Orange” lines. “The other issues were the minor rigamarole of any AM commute.”

Update 8:55 a.m.

Trains are off-loading passengers at Medical Center on the Red Line and then turning around to go back toward Silver Spring station.

Philip Stewart, a Metro spokesman, said trains are being turned around “to keep consistency.” Delays continue of up to 30 minutes between Shady Grove and Medical Center. Closer into the city, Stewart said, the delays “should be a bit shorter.”

Crews are on the scene. There is no estimate as to when the repairs will be fixed. But officials had said to expect delays through the morning rush hour.

 

 

 

Update 8:25 a.m.

Metro riders should expect delays in both directions on the Red Line through the Monday morning rush hour, transit officials said.

Trains are sharing a track between the Grosvenor and Medical Center stops, and Metro officials said riders should add between 20 minutes to 30 minutes to their normal commute times.

The problem began around 7 a.m. when an “arcing insulator” between Medical Center and Grosvenor was found. An insulator is a part on the track that keeps electricity from the third rail away from other parts. If a bolt, or other part, on the insulator is loose or has another problem, it can create smoke.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the cause is “possibly the result of water infiltration in the tunnel.” He said crews are on the scene but there is “no estimate” on when repairs would be completed.

There were earlier delays Monday on Metro’s Green Line because of a signal problem outside the Southern Avenue station, but that situation has been resolved, officials said.

Metro has had other troubles with insulators.

In January, riders aboard a Green Line train took it upon themselves to get off a train after it was stranded near the Anacostia stop.

 

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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Washington Post | June 3, 2013