Metro Red Line delays: Third rail power problems force single-tracking for morning commute

A train that was stranded inside a tunnel near Tenleytown moves into the station. Photo: Horace Holmes

Red Line trains on the Metro system are back to normal after power problems in two spots caused delays for the morning commute.

WMATA's Carolyn Lukas says trains on the line operated at reduced sppeds until about 12:30 p.m. without any problem.

Wednesday morning, the rail system's busiest line was forced to single-track and offload trains throughout the morning rush hour.

Significant delays were reported near the NoMa-Gallaudet U, Rhode Island Avenue, Van Ness-UDC, Tenleytown and Friendship Heights stations.

For the evening rush hour, Metro will have power personnel in power rooms around the system to ensure a quicker response if there are any problems. They will be placed "strategically" along the Red Line, including at the Brentwood and Tenleytown stations, Lukas says.

The power problems and third rail malfunctions began around 8 a.m., when a power malfunction outside the Rhode Island Avenue station caused a train to stop on the tracks between there and the NoMa-Gallaudet U station.

About an hour later, similar power problems between the Friendship Heights and Van Ness-UDC stations caused a train to get stuck on the tracks near the Tenleytown-AU stop, Metro Transit Police officials say.

D.C.'s fire union (@IAFF36) said on Twitter that 63 people were evacuated from a Red Line train near the Brentwood Rail Yard, between Rhode Island Avenue and NoMa-Gallaudet U, and that two people had to be medically evaluated.

Red Line delays now 20-30 min both directions due to power problem near NoMa. Trains continue single tracking btwn NoMa & Rhode Is Ave.

— @wmata (@wmata) September 19, 2012

The train that was stopped in a tunnel just outside the Tenleytown station was able to be put back in service after power was restored about 80 minutes later.

Metro officials believe that the two power problems are unrelated, but residual delays remain throughout the Red Line. Several angry riders took to Twitter to say that their commute had been significantly delayed due to the problems and that platforms at the system's busiest stations were extremely crowded.

Red Line riders switching to Green Line at Fort Totten. @unsuckdcmetro @wmata @drgridlock…

— elissa laitin (@elaitin) September 19, 2012

WMATA is urging riders to use the Green Line or take the bus to get around the delays.

Red Line delays up to 30 minutes in both directions due to ongoing power problem.Consider Green Line or Metrobus service as alternate.

— @wmata (@wmata) September 19, 2012

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WMATA is still investigating what caused the power outages, narrowing down the long list of possible causes.{ } Lukas says until they've figured it out, they will remain extra vigilant when it comes to power issues.