A 74-year-old Washington man fell or jumped in front of a subway train at Union Station yesterday afternoon but survived after being knocked to one side. The incident tied up rush-hour rail traffic in both directions for nearly an hour, delaying thousands of commuters up and down the Red Line.

A Red Line train bound for Silver Spring was pulling into Union Station at about 3:30 p.m. when its operator saw the man hit the tracks, Metro officials said. The operator pushed his emergency stop button but the train struck the man as it passed by.

Within 10 minutes rescue workers had arrived and power in the rails was cut off in both directions. Identified as James Hamilton of 2010 Maryland Ave. NE, the injured man was lifted from the tracks and taken to Washington Hospital Center where he was listed in serious condition with a ruptured spleen.

Passengers on the immobilized train disembarked and the station was closed. Buses were sent to Union Station and Judiciary Square so that passengers could continue their trips. As rush-hour crowds built up in other Red Line stations, two Silver Spring trains and one Dupont Circle train were turned around before they reached Union Station.

Shortly before 4 p.m., power was restored to one of the station's tracks and technicians at Metro headquarters, watching their trains' movements on a computer screen simulation, began "wrong-railing" three trains through the one open line. Union Station then was reopened.

At 4:15 the train that struck the man was moved out of Union Station and service began returning to normal.