DC Metrorail System Shuts Down for Fire Safety Inspections

WASHINGTON, DC – The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, WMATA, suspended all of its Metrorail service in the Washington, D.C., late last week, for emergency inspections, causing commuting nightmares for residents of the nation’s capital.

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld announced the move in a news release, with WMATA saying it was supported by the authority’s Board of Directors and that the emergency inspections of the system’s third-rail power cables are necessary after an early morning tunnel fire the previous day.

Inspections of approximately 600 “jumper cables” are being done along all tunnel segments on the 118-mile Metrorail system in the nation’s capital after an electrical fire occurred in a tunnel.

26 areas were found where damaged jumper cables and connector boots needed to be replaced, and the agency planned to continue work through the night to complete those repairs.

“Throughout this intense inspection deployment, our focus has been on effectively mitigating fire risks,” he added. “We are being as clear as we can about what actions we have taken so that customers and employees feel safe as they ride Metro tomorrow.”

According to WMATA’s report, this is an unprecedented action. The tunnel fire was an electrical fire involving a cable outside the McPherson Square Station; there were no injuries, but service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines during the day.

WMATA bus services operated on their regular schedules.