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Slick Tracks Slowed Morning Metrorail

The trains are back up to their normal speed now, but for a few hours this morning, Metrorail dropped speeds in many areas because the tracks were unusually slippery. It was a combination of falling leaves and morning dew.

On the last day of November, leaves are still coming down. Along many sections of the above-ground tracks, the combination of leaves and dew creates a slickness that makes it more difficult to start and stop the trains. (This contributes to another routine problem on train cars: the flattening of wheels because of irregular wear. Sometimes they have to be taken into the shop for rounding.)

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a statement that for safety, Metro slowed the trains from their normal operating speed of 55 mph down to 30 mph in the areas around 27 of the transit system's 86 stations. This widespread speed restriction was in effect from Metrorail's opening to 8:10 a.m., Farbstein said.

Metrorail riders are familiar with seasonal slows: In the summer, speed restrictions can be imposed out of concern that above-ground rails may develop kinks on extremely hot days. In the autum, the leaves become the problem, but it's unusual for a safety slowdown such as this morning's to affect such an extensive area of track.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 30, 2007; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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