Two stalled Metro trains delayed for up to 30 minutes about 5,000 Northern Virginia riders returning from the Mall fireworks display Saturday night, officials said yesterday.

Metro officials described the delays, which occurred when the trains broke down between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations, as the only major glitch in an otherwise near-perfect day for Metro.

"I think it went very well, all things considered," said Theodore Weigle, assistant general manager for transit operations.

At the height of the evening passenger load, he said, about 200,000 people, or twice the number that normally rides during rush hour, used the system.

"It was an unbelievable crunch of humanity," Weigle said.

The delay at Rosslyn, which began at about 10:30 p.m., developed when faulty equipment forced a train to shut down just before reaching the station, according to Cody Pfanstiehl, a Metro spokesman.

When that problem was corrected, a second train that had been waiting behind it had difficulty starting after its motor overheated, causing at least two other trains near the Foggy Bottom station to be stalled, Pfanstiehl said.

"It was a domino effect," he said.

Weigle said another delay occurred at Rosslyn after the first one when a signal problem caused a Blue Line train to National Airport to be incorrectly routed onto the Orange Line to Balston. Thousands of people jammed into the Rosslyn station as a result of the delays, and many opted to leave the station and walk home rather than wait for additional trains.

A third delay took place shortly before 11:30 p.m. at Silver Spring when an automatic track switch failed, causing three or four trains to be about five minutes late, Weigle said.

He said the crowds on the Mall were gone by about 11:30 p.m. and the system closed down only a short time after its normal midnight closing.

"We cleared up the Mall a hell of a lot faster than if we were not there," Pfanstiehl said.

Officials also said the special holiday fare plan in which riders deposited 50 cents into barrels rather than use the farecards seemed to work satisfactorily.