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Posted at 8:09 AM ET, 12/13/2010

Blue, Orange lines delays cleared

By Mark Berman
Mark Berman

10:40 A.M. UPDATE:

Metro says the delays have eased and trains are now operating on schedule. What is your experience? Post a comment below.

10 A.M. UPDATE:

The delays remain for commuters taking the Orange and Blue lines. There are still crowds at stations and reports of crowded trains. Expect big delays if you are taking either of these lines in the direction of downtown.

9:45 A.M. UPDATE:

The delays remain in both directions on the Orange and Blue lines. There are still reports of crowded trains as people continue to make their way into work.

9:25 A.M. UPDATE:

And now the switch malfunction has been cleared and normal service has resumed on the Orange and Blue lines. There are still considerable delays caused by the temporary split on the lines, as well as the earlier single-tracking around Metro Center, according to Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff.

But normal service has resumed in both directions on the Orange and Blue lines. The single-tracking at Metro Center has also been cleared. You should still anticipate major delays.

9:20 A.M. UPDATE:

Well, this just got worse: There is no Blue or Orange line service between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle due to a switch malfunction, according to Metro. The lines have been split into two segments: Blue line trains running from Largo to Federal Triangle, and then from Foggy Bottom to Franconia. And Orange line trains running from New Carrollton to Federal Triangle, then from Foggy Bottom to Vienna.

Again, shuttle bus service has been requested between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle.

9:02 A.M. UPDATE:

Due to the big delays at Metro Center, shuttle bus service has been requested between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle.

There are delays in both directions, and we're seeing and hearing a lot of issues for commuters far back on the Orange and Blue lines in Virginia. There are reports of incredibly packed trains and long waits. If you can get to work a different way (using the bus or driving), that might help you avoid some long waits.

8:55 A.M. UPDATE:

The smoke is clearing and the situation is under control, reports D.C. Fire and EMS. They are still on the scene, but scaling back their involvement.

The Orange and Blue lines are still single-tracking, so delays continue in both directions on both lines. But, again: Metro Center remains open, according to Metro. They don't have a timetable for when single-tracking will be lifted.

8:40 A.M. UPDATE:

There have been reports of Metro Center being entirely closed due to the electrical fire, but that is not the case, according to Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff. Trains are single-tracking, so there are considerable delays, but the station remains open.

8:35 A.M. UPDATE:

The fire is under control, but officials are still on the scene, according to fire department spokesman Pete Piringer. It was an electrical fire involving a light fixture and some debris, and there is still some smoke underground. They are trying to finish clearing it up right now, but have no timetable for when they will be finished.

8:25 A.M. UPDATE:
There are delays for the Blue and Orange lines due to the fire-related issues at Metro Center. Trains are sharing the same track between McPherson Square and Federal Triangle, and delays are in both directions.

According to D.C. Fire and EMS, there was a light fixture on fire but the fire has been dealt with and is under control. However, there is still smoke.

ORIGINAL POST:
There's a report of a possible fire in the tunnel at Metro Center, which could cause delays for travelers heading through that area. We'll update this for you as we get more information.

By Mark Berman  | December 13, 2010; 8:09 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

I just left Metro Center..there was some kind of electrical-smelling smoke filling the station as I left. Just now, there were no delays on the red line, but the blue/orange was severely packed and trains didn't seem to be moving through. Both train arrival signs were blank. Lights were off on the side of the platform heading towards largo/new carrolton. I also saw at least one firefighter heading towards the tunnel on that side.

Posted by: serialcarpins | December 13, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Possible fire? There was def. a fire! About as big as fire you'd have in a fire place. Orange flames and lots of smoke on the blue/orange line heading south at Metro Center. Yup, it was def. a fire. Funny thing was, people just stood around like it was no big deal. I got out of there and back up to the red line to find an alternate way to work.

Posted by: Braticuspunk | December 13, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like it happened down in the recessed area where there is wall lighting and where people also throw trash and it builds up?

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | December 13, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

DC HSEMA sent out a notification at 8:25am that Metro Center was closed. (https://textalert.ema.dc.gov/latest.php)

That's more than an errant report. Maybe WMATA should coordinate with these agencies to clarify the situation. Also, maybe they should stop having things catch on fire on the tracks. Just a thought.

Posted by: barkingmoose | December 13, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I exited Metro Center about 15 minutes ago. I departed a Red line train and there was visibly thick smoke. Passengers on the platform were covering their faces to protect them from the smoke.

My problem is that there was no communication at all from any Metro official. My train conductor did not mention that there was a problem and there was no announcement in the train station. Metro employees were walking around as if thick smoke in the station was status quo. No one even seemed concerned and there was no guidance provided.

The lack of communication and involvement by Metro officials today, during what could have been a serious emergency, has made me consider finding alternative transportation to work.

Posted by: LibraLady1 | December 13, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

If you HAVE to be somewhere on time, as was ths case for me this morning, DRIVE. I did, and thank goodness.

There are problems on the roads, and Metro should be the If You Have To Be Somewhere on Time, Take METRO, but not with the formerly First World but now Third World Metro of this Banana Republic that giveslavish doles to the wealthy with money borrowed from our Chinese bankers, who are ever more gleeful about the control we are giving them over us. Invest instead in basics like infrastructure. No. Hell No.

Posted by: jimb | December 13, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"incredibly packed trains and long waits"

So, S-N-A-F-U.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 13, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Why does metro not alert riders to major delays BEFORE more riders enter the train system, when conditions are known!? At 8:20 I boarded train at Potomac Ave. where it held for 15 min. or more. It again held 15 min. at next station & only update driver gave was that there was track sharing near McPherson. at 9am our train was offloaded at Federal Center SW with NO explanation. There were no shuttles. There is currently NO explanation on WMATA website as to cause of delay- I had to walk to work in freezing cold b/c I was already an hour late-- imagine poor people who are not even from DC and get dumped off at a random station with no info. available on area alternatives e.g. buses in the vicinity. Metro at minimum needs to explain to passengers the severity of delays so people can make informed decisions as to start the commute on metro or find an alternative commute on days like today esp. given there is nothing in place to deal with excessive crowds that then accumulate, which is a riot waiting to happen. How can this be the transportation system for the nation's capitol???

Posted by: vnb7 | December 13, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

My train this morning was a blue line coming in the direction of Largo. We were held just behind the fire right outside of McPherson Square apparently moments after it began. The train in front of us was just on the Metro Center side of the McPherson station and was disabled - looked like it had been evacuated due to the fire. Our conductor was excellent actually - gave us updates every few minutes, told us why we were delayed, let us know what he was hearing and informed us that he had to shut off the air conditioning/heating units that were sucking in smoke from the tunnel.

We were the first train to go in single tracked at about 8:15 and I got off there at McPherson. Thick smoke in McPherson even then, but overall, satisfied with my conductor. Metro shouldn't be having these kinds of problems, but a definite bright spot with the conductor on my train.

Posted by: delphisans18 | December 13, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I passed through Metro Center on the Red line at about 8:30. In the time it took for the doors to open and close, the car smelled strongly of smoke. I made eye contact with a woman sitting nearby as we both looked up from our books. "Do you smell smoke?" I asked. "Yes," she answered. As is often the case when something actually is wrong, the train operator has nothing to say about it - just the usual and inane, "Use all available doors," which is what I'm going to have inscribed on my tombstone.

Posted by: ermiwe | December 13, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I passed through Metro Center on the Red line at about 8:30. In the time it took for the doors to open and close, the car smelled strongly of smoke. I made eye contact with a woman sitting nearby as we both looked up from our books. "Do you smell smoke?" I asked. "Yes," she answered. As is often the case when something actually is wrong, the train operator has nothing to say about it - just the usual and inane, "Use all available doors," which is what I'm going to have inscribed on my tombstone.

Posted by: ermiwe | December 13, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

My train held for 15 minutes outside Arlington Cemetery, where it then offloaded. We were told the options were to take the opposite platform train back to Pentagon and catch the Yellow, or to wait for the next Blue line (that would undoubtedly be at capacity). A lot of people, myself included, exited the station and walked over Memorial Bridge into DC. It was just a disaster of a morning commute.

Posted by: maitlasd | December 13, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It all started like a normal day. I rose out of bed by the aroma of bacon and eggs, slipped on my fuzzy rabbit slippers, and made my way towards the lavatory where I proceeded to urinate into my porcelain throne. I peered towards the bathroom sink where my toothbrush resides and demanded that my teeth be brushed. He (the toothbrush) exclaimed, "You sir, are a madman," and I took him by the lower neck and slabbed a generous portion of Aquafresh onto his soft hair. I brushed my teeth with immense glee! To be continued...

Posted by: donteatdominos | December 13, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I entered the system at around 8:45 AM at Eastern Market. There was no indication that anything was amiss, except that the train at the platform in the direction of Vienna/Franconia was holding longer than normal (but not long enough for me to catch it).

The next train was 2 minutes behind it, pretty normal for rush hour. I got on, we entered the tunnel, and then stopped before reaching Capitol South. We were stopped in the tunnel for quite a while, with no updates from the operator except that we were "holding until we receive further instructions." We started moving again without further communications, and proceeded through Capitol South normally. There was still no information, although some of the passengers had heard there was single tracking.

Upon arriving at Federal Center SW, we were informed the train was going out of service and returning to New Carrollton. There was absolutely no communication about what the situation in Metro was -- was Metro Center completely closed? (i.e. Would walking to L'Enfant be futile, because even if we took Green/Yellow & transferred to the red line, we still wouldn't be able to get through?)

Several people walked to Independence Ave to catch a 30 bus to bring us downtown. After several minutes, I asked a girl with an iPhone when the next bus was coming, which was in 5 minutes. So we waited. When the bus finally came, it was apparently so full that the driver skipped the stop, stopping after the intersection to let riders off.

With no other bus in sight, I got in a cab with two others heading down to Farragut Square (our original destination). The cab fleeced us, but I was so discombobulated at that point that I didn't even get his license number.

Look, things happen. Metro needs a plan to quickly communicate with passengers exactly what is going on so that passengers can make the best decisions. At Federal Center, for instance, the station managers should have been directing people to L'Enfant and letting us know that the Red Line was still running through Metro Center.

Time and time again, when things go wrong, the biggest complaint is that there is no communication. This seems to me to be solvable, if Metro acknowledged it was a problem ("We know things are going to malfunction in the system. Here is what the front-line staff will do when situations arise.")

Posted by: DCLiz | December 13, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

are they sure this was just an electrical fire?

when I got to MC at 9:45am there were at least 8 Dept of Homeland Insecurity and FBI uniformed police officers, including K-9, patrolling and looking very attentive and on edge, if not nervous. Strangely, no Metro Transit cops around. Routing Patrol or exercise? possibly....

Posted by: Section107 | December 13, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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