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Red Line returning to normal

Mark Berman

Seeing problems, crowds or unpleasant conditions on the Metro? Share your photos here and check out what other riders are going through. And sound off in the comments below or e-mail us at transportation@washpost.com.

9:18 P.M. UPDATE: Metro says the problem at Gallery Place has been cleared. However, expect delays to take a while to work out of the system.

9:15 A.M. UPDATE: Jackie Kazil snapped redline.jpgthis photograph as her crowded train arrived at Farragut North.

8:55 A.M. UPDATE:
A Red Line train heading to Shady Grove is experiencing a door malfunction, according to Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff. The train is being examined right now and they aren't sure of the specific problem, he said. There are still delays on the Red Line, but he said they expect the delays to clear up soon.

8:45 A.M. UPDATE:
Crowding is a major problem at downtown Red Line stations right now. Check out this picture of crowds at Gallery Place (@dannylyon via @UnsuckDCMetro).

The Post's Jackie Kazil reports on the fun from Gallery Place: Her Red Line train sat there for 25 minutes before offloading at the station. The riders were told it was a door problem, with a sensor saying a door was open while a search of the train revealed no open door. She got on another train and colorfully compared the Metro Center platform to a quarter game at the fair (the ones where quarters are pushed all the way up against a ledge, and adding just enough coins pushes them over the edge).

ORIGINAL POST:
The Red Line has delays heading to Shady Grove due to a train malfunction at Gallery Place-Chinatown. The Post's Michael Ruane reports that an inbound train offloaded at the Dupont Circle station and headed back to Shady Grove, leaving big crowds and a big mess at Dupont.

By Mark Berman  | July 16, 2010; 8:39 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Metro  
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Comments

It's just a matter of time before people accidentally get pushed off the edge of a crowded platform onto the tracks. All it would take is somebody slipping and falling or a piece of luggage hitting somebody in the back of the leg. You'd get a domino effect and the people in the front won't be able to stop themselves from falling.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 16, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Just to add to this post, crowding is a big problem at all the stations. While sitting at Takoma for 25-odd minutes from about 8:10 to 8:35, the train became so packed that people were voluntarily waiting on the platform for the next train.

Posted by: crzytwnman | July 16, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

@WashingtonDame, good point.
Because the trains will all be pulling to the front end of the platform for the forseeable future, the train doors will always be at about the same place on the platform, right? This would allow Metro to install some sort of barrier on the platform to prevent falling on the tracks, but that has openings on the part of the platform where the train doors arrive...but sadly, this probably will not happen until someone is injured or killed in an overcrowding incident because this system is more reactive than proactive it would seem.

Posted by: informedtraveller | July 16, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they should just report when there are no problems, because that would be incredible news.

Posted by: 123cartoon | July 16, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

@WD and IT:

Solid idea, but, I have no data on this, how many times has that actually happened? Seems to me that the metro is constantly crowded, at least once a week I'll get into Metro Center to see hordes of people waiting, even been offloaded at Rosslyn. If it were a safety issue I think something would have been done about it by now, over 30 years after the first train left the station.

Posted by: Mainah32 | July 16, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@Mainah32, thank you for the compliment. I think there should be some middle ground between the two views of building something like safety barrier only after someone has fallen on the tracks due to crowding and building it to prevent a possible accident: We need data. I think we need some people traffic engineers, or whomever is fit to make such estimates, and we need to get an assessment of risk: What is their estimate of the liklihood of someone being accidentally pushed onto the tracks given the levels of crowding we are seeing. Alternatively, I suppose station managers may need to temporarily close off access to the platform if it reaches a certain level of crowding, and if crowding continues, close off access to the mezzanine level. I do not see a viable alternative other than barriers on the platform, or temporarily closing off access to the platform and / or mezzanine level...unless they do something drastic like increase the number of 8-car trains, but I do not think it likely that THAT will happen.

Posted by: informedtraveller | July 16, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@informed

8 car trains? *Salivates* You dream. I agree though, there has to be something they can do short of building a fence at the edges or waiting for someone to fall over if someone hasn't yet. The only issue I would see with a sections of fencing is that it would have to be easily removable, by anyone, in case a train needs to be evacuated but it can't line the doors up with the openings.

Posted by: Mainah32 | July 16, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The difficulty with platform-edge doors, or gates, is that they depend on the train hitting the mark every time, and that works better when the system is fully-automated. If the train doesn't hit the exact spot, the doors/gates won't be matched up with those on the train.

Train operators SHOULD be able to hit a mark, and we know from the New York Subway that it's quite possible (look at the stops where gap fillers are, or were, used, such as at Times Square on the S platforms or on the old South Ferry loop stop that closed last year--it's essential to hit the mark so that the gap fillers are at the right place on the train, and the train operators seem quite proficient in doing this with no problem). But DC's train operators seem to be unwilling or unable, for the most part, to learn any sort of skill of this kind.

New York's been considering platform-edge doors on the Second Avenue Subway that's now under construction as a means of reducing the heat in the stations. But I haven't heard talk of retrofitting any stops there or here.

I HAVE seen Metro stop traffic from entering overcrowded stations on occasion, but it's only been for special events such as ballgames or July 4. In a system that relies as heavily on escalators as DC's Metrorail, platform crowding is a serious threat if the crowd backs up onto the escalator, as the people will have nowhere to go. Hopefully if that ever happens someone will be smart enough to hit the emergency stop switch....

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 16, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

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