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D.C. Metro train derails at Farragut North

Farragut derailThe National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an automatic derailment of a Metro Red Line train that occurred today at 10:13 a.m. near Farragut North as it was leaving the Farragut North station. The train had moved onto the wrong set of tracks and a safety device derailed it as a precaution. Three minor injuries were reported among 345 passengers. The station itself and roads around it were closed for about two hours while emergency workers addressed the accident.

3:10 p.m.: According to Metro sources familiar with events, the train left the main track and a safety device automatically engaged to prevent a potential collision with another train.

After leaving Farragut North, the train was moving very slowly. Though it is not clear why, the train left the main track and went onto a side track. There, a safety device known as a derailer "popped the wheels off the track," said a Metro official who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation.

Both the train operator and the downtown controller responsible for that section of the Red Line were placed on administrative leave and will undergo drug and alcohol testing, as is standard Metro procedure.

The official did not know how long the operator had been working for Metro.

The train was moving very slowly when the operator attempted to return it to the main track and it derailed, a factor that minimized injuries. A "derailer popped the wheels of the track" because there was a red light ahead, the official said.

"It intentionally derailed the train for safety purposes to stop it from running a red light and prevented a collision," the official said.

-- Ann Scott Tyson


2:49 p.m.: A Metro official said Friday's derailment on the Red Line occurred when equipment on the tracks, known as a derailer, purposely derailed the Shady Grove-bound train, which was on a side track, as a safety measure to prevent it from running a red light and potentially causing a collision.

2:29 p.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into Friday's Red Line accident and has sent an investigator to the scene near Farragut North Station.

1:56 p.m.: Angela Day, 49, of southeast Washington, was on her way to work with luggage for a Valentines Day trip she planned to make to North Carolina after work.

"We were riding along and there was a big old jolt," she said as she stood outside the Farragut North station, her eyes tearing in the cold wind.

"The operator informed us that we had derailed," she said."Then they told us that we were alright and help was on the way ... I thought they could have done a better job of reassuring us."

"There was a baby on the train. He had gotten sick and threw up on his mom.
She did an excellent job of calming him down. She actually calmed me down too."

"In my car we had a humorous lady on there. She kept us all entertained. There wasn't any panic."

But people grew anxious waiting for help. "It was like, okay, when are they going to come, when are they going to come?"

Day said she recalled the horrific Metro crash in June, and prayed.

"I didn't see any sparks," she said. "I'm looking out the window. Said my prayers and let it go. What else could I do?"

She said she prayed: " 'I'm leaving it up to you.' And that's it."

"It was an experience, and I'm just glad I'm off."

She planned to make her North Carolina trip despite the mishap. "No plane, no train, nothing's going to stop me from getting to my man," she said.

-- Michael Ruane

1:54 p.m.: Stephanie Ebron, 41, was also in the fourth car. She said the car's lights went out for about 15 minutes before its emergency lights came on.

Some passengers grew cold, said Ebron.

"It wasn't that much of a jolt," Ebron said. "The front cars had more of a jolt."

The passengers began joking with each other, said Ebron: "Anyone who starts panicking will be thrown off the train," joked one, and others began telling jokes to pass the time and keep the mood calm during an impromptu comedy hour.

1:52 p.m.: Victoria White, 23, of Fort Totten said she was standing and holding onto a handrail in the fourth car when she heard a loud "bang" fell onto a seated passenger.

White was traveling between the Farragut North and Dupont Circle stations, she said.

The mood on the train was light, White said, although many riders were frustrated with the lack of information they received.

About 45 minutes after the stop, said White, she and other passengers in the fourth car learned what was happening when a Metro employee boarded the car.

"I spent 2.5 hours underground and had to pay full fare," said White. "I want my $2.35 back." -- Keith Alexander

1:33 p.m.: After last year's Metro crash, Darrell Fields said he had honed his vigilance as a regular rider between Southwest D.C. and his job managing a travel agency in Dupont Circle. He notices things better and is more attuned to things on the trains. He was in the third car during Friday's derailment and noticed something frightening to him:

As the passengers waited in their train in a tunnel, he heard another southbound car approaching "at regular speed. I thought 'please don't let that one be on our track.' " Three northbound trains also passed in the tunnel, Fields, 40, recalled, "but very slowly."

"I trained myself to think about being near center doors and not getting in the first or last car," he said. In recent months, that attention lapsed a bit but on Friday, Fields was in the third car of the derailed Red Line train "and thought I needed to get back that attention."

Fields, who had been standing in the car when it derailed and not holding a hand rail, said the "bounce" was not enough to throw him to the floor but was more like the bump of an abrupt elevator stop or "minor" air turbulence he said.

Fields has taken a D.C. Circulator bus to Verizon Center. He had tried to get on another earlier train that was crowded but "this little old lady inside the door sort of shoved me and told me it was too crowded already and said I needed to get off. I just stepped back and got on the next one."

-- Mary Pat Flaherty

1:20 p.m.Connecticut Avenue between K and L streets, the last stretch of road around Farragut North that was still closed for the derailment, has been reopened.

1:16 p.m.: Linda Strating of Alexandria was in the third car of the train when she heard and felt a "thump and a funny noise."

"People murmured 'that didn't sound good' and almost immediately the operator came on and said 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have derailed.' " The operator followed that with assurances help was enroute and urged passengers not to panic, Strating said. "I felt bad for her. Her voice sounded like she was trying not to cry."

Nearly everyone in her car, Strating said, was seated and "there was no one thrown about" or knocked off their feet and passengers were calm. She did not see anyone injured.

The lights in her car returned but the front two cars remained blacked out. As they waited for "about 20 minutes" Strating said she saw several trains passing on their right and some on their left until firefighters eventually approached with flashlights.

Passengers from the first two cars were moved to the back cars and the train was towed back to Farragut North, she said and passengers offloaded through the doors on what had been the third car.

Train service already had slowed due to single-tracking and had taken 45 minutes to get from Van Dorn to Metro Center on the Blue Line before her red Line transfer, said Strating, who usually drives to her job as a recruiter at the Institute of World Politics, which does counterterrorism and intelligence training.

Strating said she will take the train home "because I don't have a choice, and what are the odds of being in something like this a second time?"

-- Mary Pat Flaherty

1:07 p.m.: Metro passenger Faye Dickerson, 50, of Clinton, said she was on the fourth car. "The train suddenly stopped and the lady came on the line and announced the derailment. "Then she came back on a little later and told every body to stay calm and patient, they were waiting for emergency crews to get there," Dickerson said.

Dickerson, looking uneasy as she stood at the bottom of a set of escalators leading up to the street from the station, said she was unhurt, but felt shaken up.

"It was frightening," she said."I'm still shaken from it. I didn't feel like a strong impact or anything. It just seemed like an emergency the way it stopped suddenly. They had the people come from the first two cars onto the third and fourth cars, and then they disconnected the first two cars."

She said she was headed to her job at Fannie Mae in northwest Washington. It was her first day back at work since last Thursday.

"I was trying to make it there, get some things done," she said. "I'm actually quite tired of Metro, and a lot of things that's happening. They talking about increasing the fares. And I don't think we're getting the kind of service we need ... it just seems so unreliable." -- Michael Ruane

12:56 p.m.: Andrew Kneale, 27, of Arlington, was headed into the District for his first day back at work at the British Council on Metro's Red Line. After leaving Farragut North he felt a slight bump and the train stopped.

"It was nothing severe,'' he said. "It didn't jar anyone. You wouldn't know it was a derailment."

Kneale, a cultural relations project manager for the British Council, was riding in the second or third car of the train, he said. After the bump, a voice came over the loudspeaker and announced the train had derailed, he said. He and the other passengers sat for about an hour and 20 minutes until the car he was riding in could be decoupled and sent back to Farragut North.

Despite the Red Line's troubled reputation, Kneale wasn't fazed by Friday's derailment. He said Metro seemed to handle the situation well. In fact, if the trains are running, he plans to take Metro to get back home.

"It wasn't that big of a deal," he said. "I'm fine."

-- Lori Aratani

12:51 p.m.: From DDOT's John Lisle: All roadways reopened except southbound Connecticut between K and L.

12:49 p.m.: Some excerpts from Post reporter Robert Thomson's live online discussion.

Bethesda, Md.: From the chronology in the Get There blog, it seems like it took close to an hour or more to shut off power after the derailment. Luckily there were no injuries. Why does it take so long to shut down the third rail? People can die in an hour who could have been saved if treated quickly.

Dr. Gridlock: It does seem like a long time, but any time we have an incident like this, the early reports are very unclear and subject to revision. We're still in that stage.

Reports right now are that there were three minor injuries aboard the train. The passengers in the derailed part of the train, the front part, were moved to the back of the train and evacuated.

Washington, D.C.: I was on the train. There were no injuries. Everyone's been offloaded and I presume they'll have service running again soon if it isn't already. We appeared to be in a middle third tunnel because trains heading in both directions passed us on either side while we were stuck, so I'd bet they can have two tracks going again soon.

Dr. Gridlock: Thanks for this report. I know the Farragut North station quite well, but I find the reports quite confusing. Metro's statement, which I posted above, described the derailment as occuring on a pocket track. I don't understand why a train with passengers would have been on a pocket track.

And now our passenger is reporting here that trains passed on either side. I can't visualize that or think of why that would have occurred following a derailment.

I know there's much more to come.

Washington, D.C.: Is this an accident that could have happened at any time? Metro cars frequently get very crowded and there are sometimes warnings that a train could be offloaded. Or is this something that is a result of the system running too few cars?

Dr. Gridlock: We don't know. I'll offer a guess based on some history: Certain types of Metrorail cars have had difficulty with their wheels on pocket tracks. There was an incident at Mount Vernon Square a couple of years ago.

What I don't understand at this point is why this train would have been moving onto a pocket track, if that's actually what happened.

Read the full transcript.

12:42 p.m.: DDOT's John Lisle says that Eastbound K Street has reopened.

12:37 p.m.: Ubah Aden, 36, of Alexandria, who works at American University, described the derailment as akin to airline turbulence. Many people were standing in her car, but none was knocked off his or her feet, she said. There was no panic, but plenty of annoyance. -- Paul Duggan

12:36 p.m.: Nick Berning was in the front car of the train that derailed, standing just behind the conductor looking out of the front window. He commutes everyday from Union Station to DuPont Circle, where he works for Friends of the Earth.

"We were going pretty slow," he said. "I felt a quick drop, a bump or two and the train tilted to the left. The driver came on and said there had been a derailment. We could hear the driver calling into the headquarters saying, 'I have got to tell them something."'

Berning, 29, said he was standing up and not holding anything. "I did not come close to falling," he said. "I don't see how anyone could have been hurt."

Other passengers on the train spent an hour and a half joking, he said, although one man complained that he urgently had to use the bathroom.

Also on the train were three Metro workers, wearing yellow vests, and an extra driver. After a while, they went into the driver's compartment and onto the tracks to survey the damage.

When they returned, passengers were sent to the back four cars, which were disconnected and driven backward into Farrugut North, where they had just left.

-- Robert E. Pierre

12:31 p.m.: Metro recently sent out the following press release:

The Farragut North Metrorail station reopened at 12:11 p.m. today (Feb. 12) after a six-car Red Line train headed in the direction of Shady Grove Metrorail station, which derailed from a pocket track (side track) just after it serviced the Farragut North Metrorail station.

Trains will be restricted to a speed of 25 mph between Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metrorail stations while Metro officials investigate the incident.

The rail cars that comprised the train were 6096 (lead car), 6097, 1197, 1196, 6039 and 6038. The first two cars of the train (rail cars 6096 and 6097) remain in the pocket track. They are expected to be removed after the rail system closes tonight at midnight.

12:30 p.m.: Even though the Farragut North station has reopened there are residual delays in both directions following a derailment earlier this morning, according to Metro. Shuttle buses have been ferrying customers from Dupont Circle to Gallery Place-Chinatown and stopping at intermediate stations.

12:23 p.m.: Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin said there is a switch just north of the Farragut North station that takes trains onto a side track, and that may have been involved in the derailment. Derailments tend to occur "if there is something on the rail that pushes the wheels up, if it is on a very tight turn and the wheels ride up on the rail," Benjamin said.

Still, he said that derailments are unusual and most occur in rail yards where there are sharp turns. "The fact that derailments are very, very rare would indicate there is not an inherent problem" with the type of rail car, he said. A Metro official said the train likely included a combination of different series of rail cars. -- Ann Scott Tyson

12:22 p.m.: Shaken passengers emerging from Farragut North, who said they had been on the derailed train, said they felt a bump and the train came to a halt. The operator came on the intercom and said the train had derailed and help was on the way.

Passengers said there was no panic. A child vomited. And passengers said they were most worried about being struck by another train.

The lights did not go out in the cars. After about an hour, passengers from the first two cars filed into the rear cars, which were then pulled back to Farragut North.

There people exited, looking bewildered. Some said metro had promised shuttle buses but none were in sight. "I thought I was going to die," said Tyler Mack, 12, who was with his mother, Teri, 43, headed to her job in Bethesda.

Many passengers said it was their first day back at work after the storm.

-- Michael Ruane

12:19 p.m.: Fire chief Dennis Rubin says streets around Farragut North should be reopened soon.

12:14 p.m.: Fire officials said two of those who had minor injuries refused treatment, and the third was taken to George Washington University Hospital.

Farragut derail12:13 p.m.: Metro passengers who are being turned back on trains that are being reversed at Gallery Place are being charged full fare to exit at the station where they originally boarded the train. Post reporters who were required to turn back and got off at their original station were charged $1.35 for the ride. -- Marc Fisher

12:07 p.m.: Police chief Dennis Rubin says three passengers out of 345 suffered minor injuries and were taken elsewhere for triage. "Most of the people have begun to look for other ways to get to work," Rubin said.

Farragut North will remain closed for an unknown amount of time. -- Jonathan Mummolo

12:04 p.m.: The city has released an official list of road closures:

  • K Street, NW between 17th and 18th Streets
  • Connecticut Avenue between K and L Streets
  • 17th Street, NW between I and K Streets (east of the park)
  • 17th Street, NW between I and K Streets (west of the park)
  • 17th Street between K and L Street

There is very heavy traffic on adjacent streets as well and drivers are advised to avoid the area entirely, DDOT sayd.

In addition, the Georgetown - Union Station Circulator route which travels east and west on K Street is also affected by the closures

11:59 a.m.: Soon after 11:30 a Red Line train bound for Glenmont off-loaded hundreds of passengers at the Dupont Circle station. Some were resigned, others livid.

"Oh, I'm trying to keep my cool," said John Thomas, 58, of Rockville, who had been en route to his job at a federal court administrative office near Union Station. "It's a hassle, yes."

A 66-year-old woman who said she worked for the federal government in an office near Farragut West was outraged that the government had decided to open.

"They evidently opened the system before they were ready," she said, declining to give her name. "This is because OPM was embarrassed to have employees off five days. So they put us on Metro."

Other passengers leaving Dupont Circle felt differently.

"I think the city is ready to go back to work," said Michael Cheetham, who works at the Smithsonian. He got stuck at Dupont Circle on his way to the beginning of what he called a "one-day work week." Train announcers said first that they'd be moving momentarily, then, eventually, that there wouldn't b e any southbound service. "It's pretty unsatisfactory," Cheetham said, but he said that he was accustomed to it.

-- Nick Anderson and Michael Birnbaum

11:50 a.m.: Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said no other stations are closed, but shuttle buses are running between Dupont and Gallery Place. No cause has been determined yet, she said.

11:48 a.m.: Metro employees moved all customers -- 345 passengers total, according to News Channel 8 -- into the rear four cars, decoupled those from the front two, and moved the cars so that passengers could disembark, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. Shuttle buses are transporting customers to other stations, she said.

There were no reported injuries, she said.

The accident has caused major delays on the Red Line, and Farbstein had no time estimate for when those will be cleared up as Metro officials investigate the incident. "Right now, we're holding," she said. -- Ann Scott Tyson

Farragut derail11:44 a.m.: Two firefighters are stationed with a gurney at Connecticut and L streets entrance to Farragut North, and four ambulances are parked at intersection. Firefighters seem to be using the gurney to lock access to the down escalator. -- Robert Pierre

11:43 a.m.: One of the trains just before the derailment had started at White Flint and was packed with workers going to their offices for the first time in days. It was traveling at reduced speed. The conductor kept telling passengers on platforms that there was a train about six minutes behind his, and pleading with them to let riders off before boarding. But onboard passengers still had trouble making their way out of the train, often shouting that they needed to get out. And platform passengers crowded in to the degree that the conductor warned that the doors might malfunction and the train might have to be offloaded. -- Elizabeth Chang

11:40 a.m. Metro has stopped Red Line trains heading toward Shady Grove at the Gallery Place station and is turning them back toward Glenmont. Post reporter J. Freedom duLac, who is on one of the turned-back trains, said his train had idled at Fort Totten for more than 10 minutes before being sent back in the direction from which it came.

11:38 a.m.: At least one direction of K Street NW, between 16th and 18th, is closed, police spokesman Sgt. Nicholas Breul. Also northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue in that area are closed. D.C. police have set up a command post at 17th and I NW.

11:37 a.m.: A full southbound train that was waiting at Dupont Circle has been offloaded. Moments earlier, some people had started to leave of their own volition/

Monty Hamilton, 30, an attorney, got out of the train to walk from Dupont to Metro Center, near his work.

"The federal government should not have opened up today," he said. "I don't think the roads or the streets or Metro is ready for this type of usage." -- Nick Anderson

11:33 a.m.: Rescue workers are trying to shut down power and move other train traffic out of the way to access the passengers who are still on the train.

"Once we shut the power down, we'll ... fully assess the situation," Metro spokesman Pete Piringer said.

Call of derailment came in around 10:45 a.m., he said. -- Jonathan Mummolo and Paul Duggan

11:25 a.m. Update: The Post's Nicole Norfleet reports that Metro just told passengers at Gallery Place-Chinatown to disembark from a train there.

11:25 a.m. Update: D.C. fire Chief Dennis Rubin told The Post's Jonathan Mummolo that passengers are still aboard the train and that emergency officials are working on shutting down power so that people can be evacuated.

11:15 a.m. Update: Metro just tweeted this: from @metroopensdoors

Red Line: Delays on the Red line both directions, due to a derailment at Farragut North station in the pocket track.

Farragut derail11:10 a.m. Update: Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein on Channel 4 news.

Metro confirmed that the front wheels of the first car of a Red Line train derailed at 10:13 a.m. as it was approaching leaving the Farragut North Metro station.

"Fortunately our reports are that there have been no injuries," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. "The front wheels of the front car came off the tracks. We do not know how it happened."

Farbstein said the six-car train was likely filled with passengers, given the late start of the workday for federal workers after the region was hit by a blizzard on Wednesday. She said Metro would be evacuating passengers after electricity was cut to the line and that they would be escorted by walking on the tracks to the station platform.

"It's too early for us to know what exactly happened," she told the television station.

11:06 a.m. Lisa Farbstein told NBC4 that she did not know how many people were aboard the train, but estimated that there would be many riders with today being a return to work for many people. She also told NBC4 that she did not know whether the train made contact with the tunnel as the agency is still collecting information.

11:05 a.m.: Metro spokeswoman Taryn McNeil told The Post's Ashley Halsey that the incident happened in a tunnel near the Farragut North Station.

11 a.m. Update: The Washington Post staff is on the scene. Please check back for updates.

Original post: This just in from Metro:

"A six-car Red Line train headed in the direction of Shady Grove Metrorail station has reportedly derailed near the Farragut North Metrorail station. There are no reported injuries.

Metro officials and local first responders are at the scene to investigate and to safely get customers off of the train and to the station.

The preliminary report is that the front wheels of lead car is the one that came off the tracks. The incident took place at 10:13 a.m."

By Michael Bolden  |  February 12, 2010; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  transit  
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Next: Friday night gridlock in D.C.


Probably too early to tell, but it would be interesting to know if this was snow-related or just a 'normal' Metro accident.

Posted by: bobiv | February 12, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Oy, from bad to worse today.

Posted by: EricS2 | February 12, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I--and three other elderly people--waited for the N2 bus to come to New Mexico and Idaho this morning as the online "Next Bus" feature said it would--at about 10:35. No bus. The bus service in this city is worthless. It's the reason I'm going to retire early--my heart (and the rest of my body) just can't take this any more.

Posted by: DCResident10 | February 12, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

So if people die today, is the blood on Catoe's hands or Berry's?

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I--and three other elderly people--waited for the N2 bus to come to New Mexico and Idaho this morning as the online "Next Bus" feature said it would--at about 10:35. No bus. The bus service in this city is worthless. It's the reason I'm going to retire early--my heart (and the rest of my body) just can't take this any more.

Posted by: DCResident10 | February 12, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Metro fails again...this isn't news, this is an everyday occurrence.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | February 12, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

From the cameras it looks like K is closed at 16th Street. Quite a mess today.

Posted by: idiparker | February 12, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I guess if it had to happen, today is the day - with trains running every 20 minutes, people will barely notice the resulting delays.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | February 12, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

OMG! I was on the Red Line through Farragut North about 5 minutes before this accident!

Let me say, the Red Line was awful this morning. Trying to get onto a train at Woodley Park...forget it, train after train and not one person got on. I got onto an outbound train and rode up to Friendship Heights, and even then was barely able to squeeze onto a Glenmont train. Now all those poor people who were told "there is another train right behind us in 5 minutes" (which would be just as full) were caught in this mess. Yuck!

Posted by: thetan | February 12, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Terrorism not considered.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 12, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I really hope no one is killed or injured in this, but it looks like "Johnny Boy" Catoe is out for more blood. His time is almost up, I'm sure he wants to add some more bodies to his total count.

Posted by: JG55 | February 12, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

As my wife was just about to board the next train at Farragut North but on her way home to Silver Spring when the derailment occured, she called to say she was safe and it appeared that there were no injuries on the train. Have to wonder now with the masses of people on the trains today, massess of cars coming into and around D.C. with breakdowns and accidents galore and people in all modes of travel apparently quite stressed, if all systems should have remained in partial operating mode with the Fed. Govt again closed today with it being Friday. This would certainly allowed all Metro stations to be put back on line and more roads cleaned and cleared, and then to start on anew on Monday. With all of the snow it will not be a perfect and totally safe enviromnent for all but maybe just allowing all systems to have today and the weekend to clear and clean w/o the overloaded systems would have been the better decision. Yet there was pressure from all corners to restart esp the Fed Govt and w/o Metro above ground operating this could not happen. Yet city and area roads are generally a long way from being fully negotiable for both traffic and pedestrians. Hindsight is all I can say but perhaps the next time we will remember and thus benefit.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | February 12, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

William F. Buckley, Jr. once said that he would sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. I'm starting to get a similar feeling about the operation of Metro.

Posted by: zippyspeed | February 12, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

A six car train? The busiest line in the Metro system running with massive delays already, is only running 6 car trains?

I'm surprised we haven't heard about people falling on the tracks or fights breaking out.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

What a city. They want to be a State? They couldn't run a fever.

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Horrible mistake for the federal government to reopen today, with transportation and roads still a mess -- then a derailment to boot! OPM should tell everybody who hasn't come to work yet to stay home. And reward the folks who managed to get to work, since they will have a helluva time getting home!

Posted by: Kathy8 | February 12, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Catoe, your 2009 American Public Transportation Association "Public Transportation Manager of the Year".

Posted by: joejones20032003 | February 12, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Clearly this means metro needs more money. Whenever an agency f's up this bad, consistently, they need more money. Change in managelement? Nah. I predict this line of reasoning will be spewed by the day before yesterday.

Posted by: permagrin | February 12, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

zippyspeed, Buckley was a Yale guy, so the quote--while funny--shouldn't be taken too literally.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | February 12, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Kathy8 - the federal government should have been closed today. Why make people come to work for one day??? And with Monday a holiday, they could have used this time to really get things cleared/cleaned up. I made it to work today, but was nervous about driving myself to the metro. What is it going to take for govt/businesses to embrace telecommuting - especially now that almost everyone has a computer/Internet at home!! Probably when I retire...Have a good day everyone and BE SAFE!

Posted by: bkelley1 | February 12, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I am never getting home tonight.

Posted by: runnergirl03 | February 12, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

What a city. They want to be a State? They couldn't run a fever.

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I got news for you pal -- Metro is a tri-government system. Where do you live, Maryland? Virginia? Guess we should take statehood away from you, huh?

My small street is plowed and the trash picked up here in DC. How about you?

Posted by: Sonyask | February 12, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

This should be blamed more on John Berry, not John Catoe. Berry should have been aware that the already-handicapped Metro system couldn't adequately handle tens of thousands of commuters.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 12, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Has one day gone by where Metro didn't hurt somebody or cause some type of property damage?

Posted by: mjs2 | February 12, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Metro has established a new level of incompetence in safety and availability. I'm sure they didn't forget to charge rush-hour fares for this service though. Fire everyone and start from scratch.

Posted by: SK16 | February 12, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Also, did it really take and hour and a half to get people off of the train?????? I hope no one needed medical attention...

Posted by: mjs2 | February 12, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"Why make people come to work for one day?"

Stunning. You're getting paid, aren't you?
This is the nation's capital, isn't it? Get over it.

Posted by: tslats | February 12, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Maybe your train line should spend more money on track maintenance and less on lobbying for more money for the officials. Train tracks do not maintain themselves; it takes men, machines and materials. You can have the fastest and fanciest trains in the world and they will go nowhere without good and well maintained tracks. The track is the most important part of a train.

Posted by: OldCoot1 | February 12, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I could have taken unscheduled leave and still gotten paid - and should have!! This was a historic storm and is it worth powering up all the buildings for one day? And then shutting them down for three??? Glad you're a hero...

Posted by: bkelley1 | February 12, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"This is the nation's capital, isn't it? Get over it"

I agree that it is stunningly pathetic that the capital of the most powerful and richest nation in the world has a metro system that basically shuts down with 8 inches of snow. Amazing. Solution? Dedicated money for metro from the Feds.

Posted by: JG55 | February 12, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

15 years of riding metro red line told me not to go into work today - I live close enough to Twinbrook metro to hear the trains. At 6:30 AM I heard nothing and made a decision. OPM makes politically correct decisions that must be discounted. So, I used 9 hours sick leave today.

Posted by: FedGovZombie | February 12, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

And it's OPM's John Berry FTW! Hope you're satisfied caving into the political and media pressure to open the Fed Gov't before the transportation infrastructure was ready to handle it, J.B. Grand pronouncements of "capital of the most powerful nation in the world" aside, this city simply CANNOT handle back-to-back, double-digit snowstorms within one week -- what East Coast city could? EPIC FAIL, John Berry, and any other toady OPM/COG minions who caved into the decision to open the Feds today...

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | February 12, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Grand pronouncements of "capital of the most powerful nation in the world" aside, this city simply CANNOT handle back-to-back, double-digit snowstorms within one week"

I'll give you that, however metro is crippled with only 8 inches of snow. First class city? nah.

Posted by: JG55 | February 12, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This is what happens when an overzealous idiot makes the decision that the government will open after such a monstrous storm. Not only he made the workers perform their duties in a hurry to have DC open today, he put in danger thousands of people that drove in and commuted in. It was s stupid idea (like the one who made the decision) to open the gov't on a friday, and then having a long weekend. i guess that if we want bad management to run an organization, we should ask John Berry to be a consultant. He is the best at it!

Posted by: jpellicier | February 12, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The facts as I see them are:

1) Metro slapped together a plan to open their system to commuters today before it was ready.

2) While blacktop can be seen here or there, the streets where I live (Bowie) mainly consist of obstacle courses laden with ice and suspension-busting ridges of hardened slush. Some downtown streets are closed, and highways and main routes consist of disappearing driving lanes.

OPM obviously opened prematurely to save face for keeping people home through two blizzards for 4-1/2 days.

Posted by: wasteoftime2 | February 12, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock - did I read correctly that passengers had to pay full fare for going nowhere?

Posted by: mgb711 | February 12, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Nothing ever changes, Barry, Fenty whoever it is in charge of things, same stupid DC government.

Posted by: optik_b | February 12, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

PS: The reason the area "can't handle" these blizzards as efficiently as some of you want is because they don't have big snow budgets, and extreme snow events aren't their bread and butter. I hate guys with huge egos who aren't even that smart or nice. Are any of you plow drivers or master logistics experts? I am from the North, and I don't buy this holier-than-thou BS from some of you.

Posted by: wasteoftime2 | February 12, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

When Metro can't get escalators to work, how do you expect the trains to work properly. Utter incompetence.

Posted by: cardinal2001 | February 12, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Saw in your online chat the Metro had all cars that it had stored underground in service this morning. How many were snowed in at the yards and when will those cars be dug at and available for service? This is the same problems as back after a really large snow storm in the 1990s-rail cars being stuck at the yards and it taking days and days to get them back in service.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | February 12, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I would also urge pedestrians to remember to look up and keep your ears open. I have never seen so many damaged trees in my life. Almost every tree has dangling, broken branches. Some areas have tried to call attention to this with yellow caution tape, but please consider your own safety first.

Posted by: Raiche58 | February 12, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate that too many people in positions of authority feel that they have to submit to the pressure of "being politically correct" these days when a lot of time, good ole common sense is all that's needed. More and more doing what you think is "politically correct" can lead to making the wrong decision or making no decision or making a decision too late. I wonder if Mr. Berry felt pressured to make the wrong decison (opening the fed gov't) as soon as someone made mention of the cost to shut the federal governmnet each day, I believe that sometimes we need to just do what common sense dictates. Can anyone put a cost on 1 life? Also, the majority may have been dug out, there are many people who were still snowed in and the extra day would have helped. I can definitely say that The good that did come out of the closing is that it gave much needed time for families to be with their families. Especially the millions of children that are in day care from sun up to sun down and secondly we all needed the break from the rat race. The cost of the federal government....well, every day there is a lot of waste fraud and abuse that goes on and unfortunately when it is reported, nothing really is done about it. Think of it as just throwing money away. If the federal government got very serious about the on going waste, fraud and abuse then we could easily make up for the money it cost for us to be home during a snow storm that we have no control over. I thank the Lord that for me "all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose" Thank God that we were spared losing billions like Hati.

Posted by: mercyme1 | February 12, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I think OPM made a big mistake with calling feds back to work today. It puts unrealistic pressure on the metro to be performing at "usual" standards instead of what might be a subpar weekend day with track work. The bigger mistake is calling folks back to work with no bus service in much of the city. When much of the population also needs the bus in addition to metro or as an alternate to the metro train, it is unfair to put people in those circumstances. Yep, I know they can't imagine our federal city being shut down for a whole week thanks to two storms, but that is the reality.

I'm not looking forward to a commute home that is three times the normal length plus a 1.5 mile hike up an icy hill because there is no bus service. Hope I don't break my neck on the ice when it all freezes up again after the sun goes down. Goodness knows the metro won't get me home before sundown at this rate.

Posted by: screechowl | February 12, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

To the person who suggested that more people embrace telecommuting -- that only works if your boss doesn't send an email to everyone at home this morning, saying that "if your nearest Metro station is open today, you are not authorized to telecommute today" like we had been doing for the past few days.

I acknowledge that that's not telecommuting's fault and I'm not a Fed (so I can't blame OPM), but "let them telecommute" isn't an answer to all of the issues from this morning and these storms...the needed POV adjustment is multilayered.

Posted by: | February 12, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Don't you love that Metro still made people pay for the privilege of getting stuck on a derailed train???

Posted by: KatieB9056 | February 12, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Metro is broken.

Throwing more money down this rat hole isn't the solution.

All of its management and so-called safety officers must go.

Condemn and close this death-trap until all suspected safety issues have been thoroughly investigated and resolved by a competent independent authority.

Posted by: Geokalish | February 12, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I drove from Woodbridge - took 2 1/2 hours, mostly because the third lane of the Memorial Bridge disappeared just as we were rounding the curve to enter the bridge - had traffic backed up for miles on I-395. K Street was a mess (feeder roads not plowed???) - I agree - we should have been closed 1 more day. I work for a private corporation - and we were told that no matter what the government did, we were going to be open today; that we had clients to attend to. It's all about $$$$$$.

Posted by: ktzmom13 | February 12, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Just read the explanation of why the train derailed. Well, this certainly puts a new spin on the matter, doesn't it?

Is MetroFAIL broken or what?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 12, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

After a record storm, limitations in available public services, and numerous unplowed streets, the risks to commuters should have been the priority in weighing any return-to-work decision. One more day of closures to ensure full services to the public and public safety should have been the only decision. This was totally selfish and irresponsible and the public should be outraged.

Posted by: chococitylady | February 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with Govt. reopening? If you can't make it, don't go in . . .

The only day I've missed this week was yesterday, due to foot surgery.

Posted by: kenhyde | February 12, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Wait, did you guys read the statement of why this happened?? In other words, if the derailer hadn't worked, then it would have been another collision, except this time in a tunnel!! That actually makes this much worse than originally reported.

Posted by: skaterman2297 | February 12, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow. First, I'm glad that one of Metro's safety systems worked as intended. It looks like it stopped a head-on collision from occurring. Believe me, that would have been a huge disaster, because Red Line trains heading south from DuPont were packed to the gills, beyond the comprehension of most people. So for once, Metro "gets" the concept of something that is failsafe....either the signaling system, or the switching system, or the operator of the train, or the dispatcher....failed to work correctly. But luckily, there was a backup system in place to ensure that the train would be stopped before going onto the oncoming tracks.

But the bottom line is that an inservice train was either switching onto a dead-end pocket track, or onto the opposite track where this train would have been going the "wrong way". Why did that happen? What or who screwed up? This is a really serious question that needs to be answered, pronto.

And let me get this straight....the safety system, which supposidly worked "as intended", was designed to purposely de-rail the train? Sorry to sound like a teenage drama queen here, but, "OMG WTF!" Is this the best safety system that Metro can come up with? Not a computerized command to stop the train? Not a trip lever that activates the brakes, a la NYC-style? But a device which causes the train to derail? How does this device know that it isn't going to send a train hurdling into a concrete wall? How does this device know it isn't going to cause a train to fall off an elevated segment of track?

I'm honestly kind of scared to ride Metro now...which is a problem, because I've been depending on it a lot as a result of no street parking available in my DC neighborhood.

Posted by: thetan | February 12, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

There's no doubt that the derailment is news and a big deal. But Farragut North opened up 3 hours ago. Where are the updates on something other than Farragut North? For instance how about updates on buses? Around this time people are trying to plan their routes home and what is Dr. Gridlock doing? The current focus on Farragut North seriously detracts from the value of this blog.

Posted by: mmilledge | February 12, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually, all things considered, my commute was only slightly more difficult than usual today. The secret service did a great job plowing the sidewalks on observatory circle, the N2 came a few minutes later and was not full. There was traffic on Mass - but not terrible. I was at work at 17th and K in 45 minutes when it usually takes 35... GO METROBUS!

Posted by: bryveg1 | February 12, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The train purposely got derailed because it was not supposed to go on a red light.


I can't believe nobody has said this(though I didn't read every single word on this page).

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | February 12, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

It is inaccurate to say the train was "headed for Shady Grove". Although the train was going in that direction, the Shady Grove station was closed when the accident occurred. What was the intended destination of the train?

Posted by: toms7 | February 12, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

White Flint

Posted by: thetan | February 12, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to seriously question the competency of Metro employees. Are these people qualified and properly trained for their jobs? Or is Metro simply another jobs program for D.C. mandated by politicians? We would not tolerate this performance from airlines or even Amtrak.

Posted by: sero1 | February 12, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Since Dr. G hasn't posted it I will. Update from WMATA:

All Metrorail stations open as of 4 p.m. Friday.

All 86 Metrorail are now open and Metrobus and MetroAccess are in the process of returning to serve as many streets as possible, Friday, Feb. 12, with significantly expanded services available for customers.

Metrorail service as of 4:30 p.m. today includes service to all 86 Orange, Blue, Yellow, Green and Red Line stations. Metrorail trains are operating at 20- to 25-minute intervals above ground and 10- to 15-minute intervals below ground. The longer than usual intervals are a result of 35 mph speed restrictions and the snow-covered switches.

Metrobus service

Most Metrobus routes across the region were operating as of 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, as road conditions improve throughout the Washington metropolitan area. However, there are still a limited number of routes that Metro is unable to operate because of road conditions.

Metrobus routes that remain out of service as of 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, are as follows:

District of Columbia
N8 (Van Ness-Wesley Heights Loop)
D1 (Glover Park to Federal Triangle)
U4 (Sheriff Road to River Terrace)
U5 and U6 (Mayfair to Marshall Heights)

87 (Laurel Express)
89 (Laurel Line)
F8 (Prince George’s Plaza to Langley Park)
F12 (Ardwick Industrial Park Shuttle)
F13 (Cheverly-Washington Business Park Line)
F14 (Sheriff Road-Capitol Heights Line)

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | February 12, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

To Sonyask:
I live in DC. Except for CT Ave, NOT A SINGLE side street has been plowed in Chevy Chase and trash is piling up just like the snow. This city – including Metro - has turned into the mess we know thanks to people like you who draw conclusions without knowing what they’re talking about. And as if it were not enough you allow yourself to reprimand others. Shame on you!

To cardinal2001:
I couldn’t agree more. I was on the Red line this morning around the time of the accident and got off at Dupont. The escalators were broken. They’re broken at Freindship Heights as well. There’s no end in sight. Just to look at the trains makes you feel unsafe. The entire infrastructure is run down. Why waste money on more NTSB investigations, isn’t it obvious? And why put workers on more humiliating tests, like the operator last summer who had been suspected of being on her cell and of countless other mistakes while she actually did all she could until her last breath.

To those who are fleeing the area: count me on! I’ll be out of here by the summer. What’s happening to this city is profoundly sad and disturbing.

Posted by: design1 | February 12, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I am pretty confident that most of the excessive whining about having to go to work today is from fed employees. Fed employees have been off for a week, the complaining is kind of pointless to the rest of us who have been finding a way to make it in to work at least most of the week with the exception of Wednesday. OPM probably was embarrassed and should be.

For the post saying "Why make people go to work for one day" Seriously? We're adults here, not children that don't want to go to school, that's why. Conditions are bad, don't get me wrong, but no longer so bad for most that employees shouldn't be able to get to work if they are resourceful. The violin playing is getting quieter and quieter. The argument of keeping thousands of employees from doing their jobs today after already unexpectedly being off for 4 days to avoid "powering the buildings" is absurd and quite frankly, just sort of lazy.

That being said, metro obviously needs to get it together, that is the issue. This derailment had nothing to do with the weather. It happened leaving an underground rail, not one with a hint of ice on it. So to me that is the amazing and unfortunate coincidence, that this careless accident was the result of a train driver ingnoring a red light, not anything to do with the weather effects. It is just unfair to the people of the metro area for us to be paying for this. Though this storm has certainly highlighted our money issues, which doesn't really indicate anything negative about annual preparedness since we do not typically receive this sort of weather, the issue here isn't money, it's carelessness. A number of folks have mentioned it and I agree, it seems like we hear of a new incident with metro every week or so and it is getting old.

I know some of my opinions posted above will just really ruffle some fed feathers and I do believe in objectively looking at both sides of the coin: there are certainly a number of folks in the area and people further out who still could not get to work because buses still weren't running in many areas as snow emergency routes still haven't been created. There is nothing those folks could do. They wanted to get to work but were pretty much helpless. I guess my peave is that there is a difference between the idea that metro "could" provide service and that they "should" provide service. Metro "should" have been able to provide reliable service by today but they seem to be proving that they can't. These issues need to be addressed, our transit system is one of the most expensive in the country for it's customers and yet these are the sort of things we have to worry about on a daily basis. Does not inspire much confidence...

Posted by: CCT1 | February 12, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

John Catoe, the General Manager, and Peter Benjamin, Jim Graham, Chris Zimmerman and the other WMATA Board members must be held accountable and brought to justice.

Posted by: pat1425 | February 12, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mortonjr77 | February 12, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

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