Metro slows down as wood ties are linked to recent derailment
Metro is running some Red Line trains at slower speeds so they don’t damage the wooden rail ties that hold the track in place, according to Metro spokesperson Richard Jordan.
“The Red Line speed restrictions are at various locations,” Jordan said. “They are added as conditions warrant and lifted as repairs are made.”
Metro officials did not return requests for a list of speed restriction locations and speeds before deadline.
According to Metro’s Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin, deteriorated wooden ties caused the derailment of the Silver Line train near East Falls Church Station July 29.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld later said Metro track workers reported the problem seven years ago but misidentified it as a minor problem.
Train operators are driving trains as slower speeds near Rhode Island Avenue Station after engineers found structural concerns on the elevated track during a structural inspection from Sept. 3 to Sept. 5.
Metro workers and contractors are scheduled to repair this section of track during the tenth SafeTrack project, a 23-day shutdown of Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations for 23 days. The speed restrictions will remain as the concrete cures after the bridge is repaired.
Jordan said Metro put all but one speed restriction on the Red Line, as of Tuesday, in place due to the poor condition of wooden rail ties, located under the rails.
He said Metro notified riders about speed restrictions through MetroAlerts, which riders can have sent to their email or phone.
Wiedefeld said Sept. 14 Metro is rescheduling the “safety surges,” or projects in the SafeTrack program, through the end of 2016.
Metro staff moved the final Red Line SafeTrack project (Safety Surge 10) back 19 days. It will start October 29 and end November 22. The final Red Line project, according to Metro managers will affect the most riders with delays, fewer, more crowded and slower trains.
Metro officials said the schedule is changing because of high temperatures and humidity putting work behind schedule and inspectors discovered needed repairs to crossovers after the East Falls Church derailment two months ago.
When Metro begins the project, October 29 Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations will shut down.
Fewer trains will operate per hour across the entire line. Metro encourages riders who wish to travel past those stations can switch to the Green Line from Fort Totten Station to Gallery Place Station.
Wiedefeld encouraged riders to seek non-Metro transportation, telework or travel outside rush hours during SafeTrack.
Among the latest Metro mishaps, two people walked out of a train that stopped between two Red Line stations after two events, a Washington Nationals baseball game and a USA Hockey match at the Verizon Center Sept. 13.
Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel attributed14 minutes of the 40-minute stop in a tunnel to a track problem, specifically involving a track switch.
Metro Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin said the train was, moving over a switch during single tracking for scheduled work between Dupont Circle and Farragut North stations when the switch malfunctioned.
People who said they were aboard the same train said on Twitter that they waited several minutes without hearing communication in their railcars from the train operator.
Lavin said radio communications issues between the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC), who communicates over radio with train operators throughout the system, and the train operator complicated the switch problem, adding to the time it took to address. A track maintenance supervisor provided the train operator a handheld radio.
Two individuals took matters into their own hands and exited the train and wandered the tunnel.
Stessel said staff in the (ROCC) told the operator to hold the train until a maintenance worker could locate the customers who exited the train and guide them to the Farragut North platform.
The power-source third rail was still electrified when the wanderers exited the train, Stessel said.
If they had touched the third rail, then they would have been electrocuted.
The operator prepared to move the train back toward Shady Grove Station when a maintenance unit reported an unauthorized person on the tracks.
While a worker escorted the person back to Farragut North platform, Metro staffers reported a second person on the railway and a Metro employee escorted that person back to the platform.