Thousands of Red Line commuters were delayed for up to 50 minutes at rush hour yesterday morning after a switch on a track jammed, stopping rail traffic in both directions between the Rhode Island Avenue and Silver Spring stations, a Metro spokeswoman said.

Sixteen Metrobuses were sent to Silver Spring and three other stations, where rail service stopped, to move crowds to the Rhode Island Avenue station. From there, trains continued to depart for downtown, although often behind schedule, spokeswoman Marilyn Dicus said. The buses carried about 1,100 people, Metro said.

Despite such efforts, many passengers were forced to wait out the delay in Silver Spring and the Takoma, Fort Totten and Brookland-CUA stations. Meanwhile, Metro attempted to warn other commuters away through announcements over radio and in other Metro stations.

Dicus said the delays occurred because a switch located south of the Fort Totten station failed as operators were attempting to move a train from northbound Red Line track onto southbound track. Activated at 8:03 a.m., the switch failed to close properly and apparently blew a nearby circuit breaker.

The malfunction was corrected at 8:50 a.m. and service quickly returned to normal, Dicus said.