Metro’s Blue and Orange lines having troubles

[8 p.m Update]

Thousands of Blue and Orange line riders were delayed during the evening rush period Tuesday after a switch problem caused Metro to reduce the frequency of trains. The problems stemmed from a defect in a switch on a track near the Foggy Bottom station. Repairs to the switch were underway Monday night, Metro said.

Crowding appeared particularly severe about 6 p.m. at the Farragut West station, which is heavily used and crowded even during normal operations. A Metro spokeswoman said that trains were passing through the station about every five minutes, as opposed to the normal frequency of about every three minutes.

Making matters worse, she said, was a mechanical failure in a train which resulted in its passengers being off-loaded. At one point, Metro Transit police were dispatched to Farragut West to warn riders away from the platform’s edge. The transit police also restricted the flow of passengers from the mezzanine to the platform, said Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye.

By 7 p.m. she said, the large crowds had dispersed. Metro had warned Blue and Orange Line riders to expect delays and crowding during the Monday evening rush because of a switch problem near the Foggy Bottom station.

The switch problem was discovered at 11 a.m., and a track was taken out of service. At 3 p.m., at the start of the rush hour, Metro resumed using both tracks. The trains went through the affected area, but at slower speeds and reduced frequencies.

After 7 p.m., the problem track was to be removed again from service so that repairs could resume. The work is likely to continue through the night, but Metro now expects normal service on Tuesday morning.

[3 p.m. Update]

Metro is warning Blue and Orange Line riders to expect delays and crowding during the Monday evening rush because of a switch problem near the Foggy Bottom station. The switch problem was discovered at 11 a.m., and a track was taken out of service. It can’t be fixed in time for rush hour, so the transit authority announced that it had made a temporary repair and is restoring two-track service until 7 p.m.

The problem for afternoon riders is that the trains will move very slowly across this track section and there will be fewer trains than normal. That’s likely to cause crowding on the Blue and Orange trains and on the platforms through downtown D.C. and will delay trips home for thousands of riders. Trains will leave the ends of the lines every 10 minutes through rush hour.

Because the two lines come together in the tunnel through downtown D.C., trains in that section should reach platforms about every five minutes. The arrivals should alternative between Blue and Orange lines. Metro says it is adding more eight-car trains because of the crowding that will result.

After 7 p.m., the problem track will be taken out of service again and repair work will resume. The work is likely to continue through the night, but Metro now expects normal service on Tuesday morning.

Alternatives

Leave early if your schedule is flexible. If traveling from D.C. to one of the Blue Line stations in Virginia, pick up a Yellow Line train at Gallery Place or L’Enfant Plaza. The Yellow Line trains to Huntington and Franconia-Springfield (Rush Plus) will be operating more frequently than the Blue Line trains.

Metrobus 38B, sometimes called the Orange Line with a view, operates between Farragut Square and Ballston with stops at Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon and Virginia Square. See a pdf of the 38B timetable. Here’s a link to Metro’s online Trip Planner. To check other bus options, put in your origin and destination and check the “bus only” button.

[Original posting]

Metro said riders on its Blue and Orange lines should expect delays Monday, as trains are sharing a track in parts because of a track problem outside the Foggy Bottom station. It is not immediately clear how long the delays will last.

On the Blue Line, trains are single-tracking between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery; on the Orange Line, they are single-tracking between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said a switch repair is needed in the track area. Stessel said they are “waiting for additional personnel to arrive on the scene before we have an estimate” on how long the single-tracking will last.

For more transportation-related news, click here.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.
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