Another Track Fire Cripples DC Metro System With Delays

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Another track fire on the D.C. Metro forced trains to single track across the city Monday and inconvenienced commuters with yet another morning of delays.

The Metro’s blue, orange and silver lines are operating on severely reduced schedules after a fire sparked on the tracks near Benning Road Northeast during overnight maintenance. Metro platforms were overflowing Monday with crowds due to the delays throughout the system.

Metro officials say they were testing track saftey during scheduled maintenance with a test train when the fire ignited, which authorities were able to put out with a fire extinguisher. Previous reports of the Metro safety system found much of their equipment, including fire extinguishers, were broken or expired. (RELATED: Federal Inspectors Shred DC Metro: ‘Clear Concern For Public Safety’)

The fire started on the tracks between Minnesota Avenue and Stadium-Armory stations on the 3300 block of Benning Road northeast. The silver line is operating on a alternate schedule, only running between Wiehle-Reston East and Clarendon stations, reports NBC Washington.

Shortly after the fire, Metro officials reported a track switch problem on the red line at the Friendship Heights station. Metro told red line passengers to also brace for delays after the incident, reports WJLA.

Metro’s Monday woes come on the heels of an explosion on the tracks last week caught on video by Metro cameras, which led to evacuations and shut down two stations. Metro’s general manager unveiled a comprehensive maintenance plan Friday to address ongoing safety threats such as fires.

The repair effort will have a ripple effect across D.C., especially during rush hour. The system will be shut down at midnight seven days a week beginning June 3 and repairmen will start their tunnel work at 8 p.m. every night. (RELATED: DC Metro Unveils Repair Plan That Will Cripple The System For One Year)

During the various planned “safety surges,” trains will be single tracked around the clock, greatly impacting rush hour service. Metro officials may initiate line-segment shutdowns as well, which will potentially close off certain tracks for weeks. Wiedefeld, who was brought on last year to reform Metro, said repair decisions can no longer be made based on rider convenience.

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