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Metro Delays Linger as Cleanup Begins

Officials Expect Red Line Slowdown to Last Through Evening

By Fred Barbash and Eric Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 5, 2004; 5:01 PM

Major delays on Metro's Red Line stretched into their third consecutive evening rush hour today, with trains moving in both directions sharing a single track at Woodley Park Station as workers continued cutting apart wreckage from Wednesday's crash on the northbound side of the subway platform.

The Metrorail delays will continue at least through this evening, according to transit officials, who advised Red Line riders who could not travel before this evening's rush hour to wait until it was over and allow extra time for their evening commutes.

A partition on the Woodley Park platform partly blocks the view of commuters on an inbound train, left, as investigators examine the wreckage of two Metro trains involved in Wednesday's crash. (Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)

Metro Crash: Two trains collided on Metro's Red Line, injuring 20 people and disrupting the entire route.
How the Trains Collided

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Metro offered shuttle bus service every five minutes during rush hour between the Farragut North and Friendship Heights stations, with stops at Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness-UDC and Tenleytown stations.

Customers entering the system at Red Line stations were charged off-peak fares for the second day to compensate for the delays.

During the morning rush hour, commuters reported delays of five to 30 minutes as trains waited to get through the area, sometimes skipping stops at Woodley Park or other nearby stations.

Wednesday afternoon's crash occurred when an out-of-service train with no passengers slid backward in the tunnel between Woodley Park and Cleveland Park and ran into a train that was stopped at the station. One of the cars from the runaway train came to rest on top of the first car of the stopped train, which had about 70 passengers on board. About 20 people were treated for injuries.

This morning, customers on the platform at Woodley Park watched in wonder as a monster machine pried open one wrecked Metro car, as if it were a tuna can, in an effort to begin removing it. The wreckage of the other train had been removed overnight.

"It's disheartening how easy it's broken apart," said rider Risa Schecter. "Who is to say it can't happen again."

The effort to remove the trains began last night after investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board finished their physical inspection of the crash site.

"It's a complicated process," said Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato, explaining that there were 12 cars from the two trains that had to be removed from the station.

The NTSB planned to continue inspecting the wreckage at a Metro rail yard. NTSB spokeswoman Debbie Hersman said safety inspectors had already examined the tracks in the station and tunnel where the crash occurred. "We do know that track was not an issue in this accident," she said.

Metro officials said they planned to test the tracks themselves before resuming normal operations on the line.

Red Line riders appeared to have come to terms with their slow commutes, reporting that the delays this morning were at least bearable. "It seems a little smoother this morning," said Schecter, 28. "We were 20 minutes behind but it wasn't too bad."

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