Smoke Shuts Metro Stop During Rush

By Martin Weil and Lena Sun
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; Page B03

The Metrorail stop at Union Station was shut down for a time yesterday evening because of smoke, delaying the homeward journeys of thousands of commuters.

Metro said the smoke was produced by a trash fire beneath the electrified third rail in a train tunnel near the Red Line station, which is a key boarding point for thousands of Capitol Hill employees. Many people also transfer at the station to and from Maryland and Virginia commuter rail trains.

Service through the Metro station was halted in both directions about 6 p.m. One track was reopened about 6:40 p.m., and full service was restored about a half-hour later, according to a Metro spokeswoman.

The shutdown extended delays for many Red Line riders whose trips take them between the Medical Center and Friendship Heights stations. Speeds there were reduced in both directions all day because of rail flaws.

Eleven flaws were detected Sunday night during routine preventive maintenance using ultrasonic equipment, the Metro spokeswoman said. Two were repaired Sunday night, and the others were to be repaired last night to permit normal speeds this morning.

The incidents added to a list of maintenance-related problems that have frustrated Metrorail riders in recent months.

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