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Smoke causes massive Red Line delays

Passenger Bill Ben Kimmel says he was on the last Red Line train that arrived at Gallery Place and snapped this picture. "It was quite a lot of smoke down in the tunnel, and it smelled of burning rubber," he wrote in an e-mail.

10:55 a.m. Update: Metro says Red Line service has been restored. Smoking debris in a ventilation shaft was the source of the problem, the agency said in a statement.

10:52 a.m. Update: The Post's Michael E. Ruane says announcements in the stations are saying that the situation has been resolved.

10:50 a.m. Update: Passengers are reporting that service is returning to normal but delays are massive.

10:42 a.m. update: The Post's Michael E. Ruane reports that trains are now moving beyond Farragut North. We're still waiting on the official word.

10:38 a.m. Update: D.C. emergency officials are reporting that the smoke at Gallery Place has been cleared and that they are turning over the scene to Metro.

10:35 a.m. Update: The Post's Lena H. Sun reports that trains along the Red Line are severely backed up. At Van Ness Station around 10:30 a.m., one inbound train was no longer able to accommodate passengers because it was so full.

10:31 a.m. Update: here is the text of a release just out from Metro. There is no word on when the problem might be resolved. Expect long delays on the Red Line.

The Gallery Pl-Chinatown and Metro Center Metrorail stations are temporarily closed while emergency personnel respond to a report of smoke on the Red Line between the stations.

Currently, there is no Red Line train service between the Gallery Pl-Chinatown and Metro Center Metrorail stations. Red Line trains are terminating at Farragut North and Judiciary Square Metrorail stations.

Metro is in the process of setting up shuttle bus service to help move passengers around the incident. However, customers should keep in mind that buses can only carry about 50 passengers, while a six-car train can carry hundreds of riders, so customers should expect long waits for the buses.

Yellow and Green Line trains are continuing to pass through Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metrorail station, and customers are being permitted to exit the station.

Blue and Orange Line trains are continuing to pass through Metro Center Metrorail stations, and customers are being permitted to exit the station.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the smoke. The stations were closed at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 15.

10:30 a.m. Update: The Post's Michael E. Ruane reports that Metro service inbound from Shady Grove is stop-and-go with long waits at the stations.

10:20 a.m. Update:

Metro officials said people can travel into Metro Center and Gallery Place on the Orange, Yellow or Blue lines, depending on the station, and can exit, but they cannot transfer to the Red Line.

"We still don't know where the smoke is coming from," said Metro spokeswoman Taryn McNeil.

10:12 a.m. Update: The preliminary report from Metro is that there was heavy smoke at Gallery Place. There is no estimate yet on how long it will take to clear.

The Green and Yellow lines are operating normally, officials said, and the Blue and Orange Line is stills servicing Metro Center.

10:10 a.m. Update: Trains on the Red Line are running between Shady Grove and Farragut North and between Judiciary Square and Glenmont. Metro is using shuttle buses to bridge the stations.

10:05 a.m. Update: According to officials, Metro Center is also affected and both Gallery Place and Metro Center are closed. D.C. Fire/EMS officials said that the smoke was caused by a trash fire that is now under control.

Original post: D.C. Fire/EMS is reporting smoke on the tracks at Gallery Place Metro station. On Twitter people are reporting delays and saying trains are being turned back. Metro officials were unaware of a problem and are checking into the situation.

Check back for details.

Are you stuck because of the delays? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to

Riders report from the rails (#wmata):

By Michael Bolden  | September 15, 2010; 9:57 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Next: Metro bus, fire truck collide


The Redline has been a mess since 7AM.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | September 15, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Twenty minutes or more into the problem and "We still don't know where the smoke is coming from!?!" Can Metro get any more incompetent?

Posted by: nadie1 | September 15, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Make that 30+ minutes! Sheesh!

Posted by: nadie1 | September 15, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"Metro officials were unaware of a problem and are checking into the situation." This says it all. They are also unaware that they fares are unreasonable, the system is falling apart, and that many (not all) WMATA staff are rude and incompetent.

Posted by: kim6160 | September 15, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Reason number 1,243,569 not to ride Metro.

Posted by: googleguy | September 15, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"many (not all) WMATA staff are rude and incompetent"

And if you try to file a complaint, it takes Metro over three weeks to respond to it.

Posted by: mika_england | September 15, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I entered Gallery Place station a few minutes after 11 and immediately caught a Red Line train towards Shady Grove. I had no clue until now that there had just been a major crisis; the train wasn't crowded and there was no trace of smoke in the station. Somebody must have done something right to repair things so quickly!

Posted by: craighowell1 | September 15, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Metro usually stinks, it's not worth slashing service even more over.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 15, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Metro can't stop fires, they happen. When thousands of people ride your system every day, a piece of trash here or there will end up where it shouldn't. As for not knowing where the fire is, well that's up to DC emergency personnel to determine, not Metro. It's like if there was a fire at your house in the middle of the night, you don't know where it started or why, just that there's a fire and it needs to go out.

Props to Metro for only closing the Red Line, a snap decision might have shut down all the lines through those stations.

Posted by: Mainah32 | September 15, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

It would have been so helpful if, at Fort Totten, we had been told of the delays--those of us heading downtown could have switched to Green or Yellow. As it were, we offloaded at Rhode Island Avenue after lots of stopping along the way, boarded another Shady Grove-bound train, sat on that for a while, then finally got on a Glenmont-bound train and transferred at Fort Totten.

Posted by: DOEJN | September 15, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

what, are the Metro tunnels made of wood?

Posted by: jiji1 | September 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

You may want to review who the owner of the picture is. His name is Ben Kimmel. I went to high school with him and he posted your mistake on Facebook and Twitter this morning.

Posted by: kg263008 | September 15, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for pointing this out. Ben, we apologize. Thanks for the picture.

Michael Bolden
Development &
Transportation Editor

Posted by: Michael Bolden | September 15, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

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