Metro to open 5am Thursday, here's what they found so far (video)

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld held a press conference this evening to announce that Metro rail will open at 5am on Thursday, March 17th. After all day inspections, they found plenty of locations that needed repair.

According to a Metro press release, WMATA "crews have completed the inspection of 80 percent of approximately 600 “jumper cables” located in 22 underground zones throughout the entire Metrorail system. Crews have identified 26 areas where damaged jumper cables and connector boots needed to be replaced." 

Screenshot of damaged cables from WMATA YouTube video.

Three of the defects are large enough that Metro won't run trains over those locations, which include Foggy Bottom, McPherson Square and Potomac Ave (Orange/Blue/Silver lines). Of those 26 areas, 18 cable repairs have been made. Crews will continue to work through the night to complete the remaining repairs.

“I know that today presented a hardship for many throughout the region, but I want to emphasize that this shutdown was indeed necessary,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “I want to thank everyone for their patience and support in putting safety first."

Metrorail service will resume Thursday at 5am, following a normal weekday schedule. Metro says that they will announce if additional repairs and closures are needed.

 From the press release

Beginning at midnight on Tuesday, a team of electricians and cable construction crews walked through 100 miles of tunnel inspecting for defects in jumper cables, connecting boots that were damaged or improperly positioned, water infiltration, and debris that could burn near cables.

Map showing locations of defects found as of 5pm.  (courtesy WMATA) - click to enlarge -

Highlighted on the Metrorail map are areas that were identified for immediate repairs, as well as those that will require repair on a non-emergency basis. Repairs that do not require immediate action will be scheduled after normal service hours.

The areas indicate where inspection teams found some or all of the following conditions: damaged cables, damaged cable connecting boots, debris encroaching on electrical areas and water infiltration.

While these findings do not indicate that cable fires were imminent, these conditions are hazardous and increase the risk of fires on the tracks.

“Throughout this intense inspection deployment, our focus has been on effectively mitigating fire risks,” said Wiedefeld. “We are being as clear as we can about what actions we have taken so that customers and employees feel safe as they ride Metro tomorrow.”

Metro’s Safety investigators are reviewing the history of the damaged boots and cables, and all findings will be shared with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Investigators will then review inspection records, age of materials and maintenance records to identify any procedures that were not followed or standards that were not met.

The suspension of Metrorail service on Wednesday followed an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station on Monday, March 14. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.


Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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