Red Line trains delayed by disabled train

June 14, 2013

Officials investigate at the Rhode Island Avenue station after a Red Line train hit debris Friday. (Mark Berman/The Washington Post)

Updated at 4:50 p.m.:

Red Line trains stopped single-tracking at 4:45 p.m., according to Metro. But the transit agency warns that there may still be some residual delays as the evening rush hour gets underway.

Trains were single-tracking for more than four hours after a Red Line train struck a set of metal stairs while leaving the Rhode Island Avenue station.

Updated at 3:35 p.m.:

A Red Line train that was disabled earlier Friday was leaving the Rhode Island Avenue station when it struck a set of metal stairs leading from the platform to the track, according to Metro.

The six-car train was heading to the Brookland stop when the side of the cars near the back hit the stairs, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

After the car hit the stairs, they were knocked loose and were found “under the last set of wheels on the very last car,” he said.

The stairs were pulled out from under the car and placed onto the platform by Metro workers a short time ago.

Stessel again said that there was no derailment. And he said that the steps, once they were knocked loose, also struck the signal box and railing.

The metal stairs are standard at above ground platforms. Metro will investigate how the train hit the stairs in the first place, Stessel said.

Updated at 2:50 p.m.:

The Red Line single-tracking could continue into rush hour, according to Metro. This could lead to delays of at least 10 to 20 minutes for riders, the transit agency warned, though crowding and additional delays are possible during the Friday afternoon rush.

Updated at 2 p.m.:

Stessel from Metro said he did not know why fire and police personnel had initially called the train situation at Rhode Island Avenue a derailment.

“There are no wheels off the track at all,” Stessel said. “It is not a derailment.”

He said in incidents there is often “a lot of swirl and speculation in the initial moments” until Metro crews get on the scene and figure out what is going on and how to deal with the situation at hand.

At 2 p.m., at the Rhode Island Avenue stop, more than 20 Metro workers and transit police lined the platform. The train is roughly 20 feet from the end of the platform. The debris involved could not be seen. Passengers were at the station and being kept away from where police had set up yellow tape to check out the disabled train.


The disabled train sits about 20 feet from the Rhode Island Avenue platform on Friday after the Red Line train struck debris on the track. (Mark Berman/The Washington Post)

Updated 1:45 p.m.:

Tim Wilson, D.C. fire department spokesman, gave more details on the incident of the disabled train at Rhode Island Avenue.

“A Metrorail train hit some debris on the track and was stopped,” he said. “Passengers were off-loaded once a rescue train entered the station and headed toward Brookland.”

There was some dispute over whether the train derailed or not.

Wilson said that “initial reports from the scene were that the train had come off the tracks.” D.C. police also said at the time that it was derailment. But Wilson said that that assessment has now changed.

Wilson also said that two people have been taken to a hospital after being evaluated at the Brookland Metro. There are no details about the injuries, and whether they are male or female, adult or children.

1:30 p.m.:

Jim Benton, chair of the Tri-State Oversight which serves as a watchdog of Metro and its operations and safety, said Friday “something is wedged under a wheel” on the train that became disabled at Rhode Island Avenue around noon.

Benton said his group had been notified of the incident, but at this time is not headed to the scene.

“The wheel is still in contact with the rail,” Benton said.

Fire officials had called the incident a derailment, but Metro officials said it was not.

Benton said a derailment is usually defined in the industry as when both wheels on an axle leave the track. It was unclear if that had happened.

Passengers should expect delays in both directions on the Red Line as trains continue to single track.

1:20 p.m.:

Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman said passengers on the disabled train had been “successfully transferred” to another train and “are on the move.” There were 63 passengers on the train when it became disabled.

Stessel said crews were on the scene checking out the disabled train. They have reported that the train seems to have struck a signal box and a piece of guardrail, according to Stessel. He said he did not know how the train came into contact with those items. The incident is being investigated.

Red Line trains are single-tracking between the Takoma and NoMa stations to get through the area.

D.C. fire department spokesman Tim Wilson said another train arrived just before 1 p.m., and passengers were loaded onto it from the disabled train.

Wilson said the Metro train hit some debris on the track and went off the tracks. He said paramedics evaluated passengers at the Brookland station, and one was transported to a hospital. He described it as a minor injury, or a complaint of an injury. He had no more details at the time on the patient.

The incident began around noon when the train on the Red Line at Rhode Island Avenue became disabled after it struck a  piece of equipment that was on the track, according to Metro officials. Stessel said the train hit “something” – possibly a handrail or a signal box.

“It was reported that something struck from the side of the track,” he said. Stessel emphasized that the train did not derail as some rescue personnel had reported.

There were 63 riders on the train, and no injuries have been reported. The travelers are being transferred to another train.

Stessel said three passengers reportedly left the train without supervision from Metro personnel.

Peter Hermann and Mark Berman contributed to this report.

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