The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Metro train derails on Blue Line

The incident occurred near the Arlington Cemetery station

A Metro Blue Line train derailed near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Oct. 12. (Mary Kate Martin)

(The latest: NTSB begins investigation into Metro derailment; service suspended on part of Blue Line)

A Metro train derailed Tuesday afternoon on the Blue Line near the Arlington Cemetery station, the transit agency reported.

The incident occurred about 4:50 p.m. Metro rail controllers in the Rail Operations Control Center received a report of a disabled Blue Line train in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations in Northern Virginia, Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta said. Metro officials said the train, a 7000-series train that is one of Metro’s latest models, partially slipped off the tracks.

Metro officials said that 300 to 400 people were on the train and that 187 passengers had been evacuated by 7:45 p.m., with one person taken to a hospital as a precaution, in connection with issues related to anxiety.

The National Transportation Safety Board said late Tuesday that two of its railroad accident investigators will coordinate with Metro and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, its oversight agency, in an investigation.

Metrorail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations will remain suspended on Wednesday because of the ongoing investigation, Metro said late Tuesday.

Free shuttle buses will carry passengers from the closed-down stations of Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon to open Metro stations, transit officials said.

Blue Line service will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Mt. Vernon Square stations only on Wednesday while Orange and Silver lines will operate normally.

Passenger Mary Kate Martin, 28, of Alexandria was on the Blue Line train on Tuesday and said there was a “fair amount” of smoke onboard. Speaking at the time from a rail car, she said that Metro personnel or emergency responders had passengers in her car move up a few cars. “I don’t think anyone was hurt as far as I can tell,” she said.

Martin said the train had just left the Rosslyn station when cars began to fill with smoke. The train slowed, began moving again, slowed once more and then “just puttered to a stop,” she said.

Passengers waited in silence for a while, Martin said. They then were told that the train had suffered a “brake issue” before they learned that it had derailed, she said. Metro personnel and firefighters walked up and down the aisles and the power onboard remained off, she said.

“There’s a good amount of people in this car,” she said. “Every seat is taken and some people are standing, too.”

The smell of burned rubber filled the cars and visibility seemed foggy onboard, Martin said.

Passengers remained calm, said Martin, who works in operations for a co-working company. She had been on her way home from work and had planned to get off at the Crystal City station before the train derailed.

Riders sat in the dark as they waited to be evacuated. Martin said emergency responders laid down glow sticks on the train floor and informed passengers that they would need to walk about a quarter of a mile to the Arlington Cemetery station.

Train service was suspended on the Blue Line between the Foggy Bottom and Pentagon stations. Metro officials called in shuttle buses to service the stations and carry passengers to stations that remained operating.

Metro said only the Blue Line was affected.

Martin Weil contributed to this report.