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Metro slows Red Line trains

2:55 p.m. Update: Red Line trains passing through the area near Wheaton Metrorail Station where a train made an emergency stop on Wednesday are operating at reduced speeds of about 15 miles per hour or less, according to Metro spokesman Steve Taubenkibel.

"They will be operating through that block one train at a time at no more than 15 miles per hour," he said. An investigation into the incident is underway.

2 p.m. Update: Metro says trains are moving slower as they pass through a stretch of the Red Line where a train might have gotten too close to another train.

Trains are traveling about 15 mph between Forest Glen and Wheaton stations, Metro said.

Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff says the investigation was delayed by some hours because the incident wasn't communicated internally in a timely manner. Woodruff says officials are looking into their communications procedures as part of the overall investigation into the incident.

-- Associated Press and staff reports

Friday update: Metro interim General Manager Richard Sarles provided The Washington Post with incorrect information on Thursday about an inicident where a train operator hit the emergency brake to avoid a possible crash with another train parked at a platform on the Red Line. The incident happened at 9 a.m., not 1 p.m., and took place at Wheaton Station, according to Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

Farbstein said confusion over the location emerged because the operator who used the emergency brake was leaving Forest Glen Station and approaching Wheaton.

Another spokeswoman, Cathy Asato, said media relations personnel provided Sarles with incorrect information they had obtained from other Metro officials. Sarles relayed the incorrect information to The Post during a previously scheduled meeting of the editorial board.

Were you at one of the stations or aboard one of the trains when the incident happened? What did you see? What did Metro announce about the incident? Send us an e-mail at

Original post:
[This post has been updated: 6:30 p.m.]

The operator of a six-car Metro train hit an emergency brake on Wednesday afternoon while approaching the Forest Glen Station after spotting another train stopped at the platform, according to Metro interim General Manager Richard Sarles.

"I am sure he saw the train in front of him," Sarles said. Asked whether there would have been a collision had the operator not hit the emergency brake, Sarles said, "Not to my knowledge." That is under investigation, he said during an editorial board meeting at The Washington Post.

No one was injured in the incident on the Red Line, which occurred about 1 p.m., Sarles said. The train "came to a stop. That was it," he said. "We are investigating exactly the circumstances," Sarles said. Metro is interviewing the train operators and looking at the signal system to determine exactly where the trains were, he said. It had not been determined how far apart the trains were, he said.

"This is an example of why it is important for us to continue to run trains in manual mode," according to a statement provided by Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

Metro notified the Tri-State Oversight Committee, which is responsible for overseeing safety at Metro, about the incident.

The train operator was not removed from service, Farbstein said.

-- Ann Scott Tyson

By Michael Bolden  |  May 7, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Metro , Safety  
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That's exactly *why* trains should not be in manual mode. The "operators" do not have the knowledge to run the trains properly.

Posted by: member8 | May 6, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Farbstein's comment about manual mode makes no sense. The emergency brake still works in automatic mode.

Posted by: robwilli | May 6, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I've given up on Metrorail. It's overpriced, underperforming and unsafe. At least Metrobus is cheaper and they're putting new buses into service.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | May 6, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"The train operator was not removed from service, Farbstein said."

I think you meant to say: "The train was not removed from service, Farbstein said."

Posted by: RossEmery | May 6, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Hi, RossEmery. It is correct as written. We asked if Metro had suspended the operator or placed the operator on leave while the incident is investigated.

Thanks for visiting Get There.

Michael Bolden
Development &
Transportation Editor

Posted by: Michael Bolden | May 6, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Why would they put the operator on leave? It was the train that had the problem. Did anyone ask if the train was taken out of service or the rail sensors checked?

Posted by: jlowry1 | May 7, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

jlowry, your questions are too logical. We're talking about Metro ... where everything is not what it seems to be ...

Posted by: blackforestcherry | May 7, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Yea for the buses. The new buses are pretty sweet, although I'm usually stuck standing on the J2/J3/J4. My only gripes are one driver who can't stay in the lane and another one who "pulses" the gas to hold his place on a hill instead of simply applying the brake (I think he's bored).

This story will take some weeks to figure out, given WMATA's recent crash history and the the fact that it is WMATA after all.

Posted by: wp05072010 | May 7, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

People are gonna start wearing football helmets on the metro....

And no one will think they are crazy!

Posted by: SA-Town | May 7, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

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