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Is this train jerky, or is it just me?

Katherine Shaver's story about people who get queasy aboard Metro trains leaves some readers saying: This is a train, not a library. But many people who read this blog have complained about all the stopping and starting as trains enter stations under manual control.

Part of the problem is that the trains were meant to operate automatically, with electronics controlling the stopping and starting. But since the June 22 crash on the Red Line, the trains have been under the control of their operators.

Metro told Shaver that another issue is the new combination of rail cars that places the oldest cars -- the least crash-resistant -- in the center of the trains throughout the system. Mixing them up like this can put the braking systems slightly out of sync, Metro said.

The complaints I receive about train operations have fallen off dramatically since the Red Line got back to normal between Fort Totten and Takoma after the suspect track circuitry was replaced. Does that mean riders are pretty much okay with the way the trains are moving, or have you just fallen into a state of acceptance?

The one thing I do still get some significant feedback about is another change that resulted from manual control: All trains stopping at the front of the platform. But it seems to me that many have gotten used to this. The front cars are no longer so empty and the rear cars no longer so crowded.

Meanwhile: There's no timetable for restoring the trains to automatic control, General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said Wednesday night. Metro still is waiting to hear the results of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into what caused the crash. But the NTSB did find that the train control technology between Takoma and Fort Totten was misbehaving at the time of the crash, and that itself was important information. Metro says that ever since it has been closely monitoring the track circuitry and keeping the trains in manual.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 23, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line crash  
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Comments

it varies by each trip. Some are smooth, some are so herky jerky to the point of being extremely unpleasant. Herky jerky is no fun on a crowded train. Getting thrown into fellow tightly-packed commuters 5 or 6 times every time we arrive at a station is not how I like to start or end my day.

Posted by: RedBirdie | October 23, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

It's not just the Red Line, either. Yesterday afternoon, the Orange Line train I was on felt like it was driven by a racecar driver. It sped up drastically and slowed down suddenly for the whole time I was on it, Smithsonian to West Falls Church. I got motion sick from it.

Posted by: PubPeople | October 23, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The bigger problem to me is the sheer number of inter-platform stops. Sometimes you have to wait in the tunnel for the platform to clear, ok. But why do we then move up 200 ft. at a time while waiting--jerking to stops and starts the whole time? Why not sit still until we can actually go forward the rest of the way?

Posted by: stevis23 | October 23, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

In July 2008 - long before this summer's tragic accident - I had a chance to speak with Metro GM Catoe to share with him my experience of the persistent jerky stops that all the trains make upon arrival in a station.

From my perspective, and I imagine from most Metro riders, this is a long-standing problem that predates the accident and traces its orgins to a design flaw in the trains themselves, irregardless of whether the trains are operating on automatic or manual control. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to provide training to train operators in how to bring the trains into the station more smoothly. Go to any other city with a major subway system and you won't experience the kind of jerking we experience on every single ride in the WMATA system. This needs to get fixed.

Posted by: ambadale | October 23, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Red line:

Since the accident the ride has been much smoother. The ride was quite hurky jerky.
We ride from Waldorf, Van go is the worst then Keller commuter bus The best Metro good and Ride on pretty good to Damascus. We do this maybe once a month.
o.geezer

Posted by: ogeezer | October 23, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

What? they have brakes? I could've sworn they were dragging anchor. Killing my knees.

Posted by: KSVA | October 24, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Metro has been running mixed consists for years. It's not fair to blame the problems on post-crash train rearrangements. They've ALWAYS done this; the only difference is that the 1000 series are now (supposed to be) in the middle of the train, not at the front or back.

Posted by: nashpaul | October 25, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I never got motion sickness or nauseated from Metro's stop-and-go movement, but when I had to stand during a ride, the rough movement really aggravated my carpal tunnel syndrome, because my wrist was being stressed from holding on to a pole. That was a factor in my abandoning Metro for my car.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 25, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

The problem for years (I've been riding sine 1988) has been this: Train pulls into platform, operator say "Stand by, train will move forward", train then lurches ahead 1 to 3 feet and stops, doors open. WHY? What need is there to move forward 18 inches?

Posted by: ceebee2 | October 26, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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