Metro delays due to smoke on Nats’ opening day

Opening day for the Washington Nationals got a little hairy after a major transfer point on the Metro closed down because of smoke on the tracks.

Metro closed two Red Line stations for two hours Monday while the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services and Metro personnel investigated a report of smoke on the tracks Monday, Metro spokesperson Richard Jordan said.

Jordan said the source of the smoke was a stud bolt that was grounded. Metro did not run trains between two stops while Metro and D.C. Fire EMS investigated.

“The location of the stud bolt was between Gallery Place and Judiciary Square, so trains were turned back at the stations on either side (Metro Center and Union Station),” Jordan said.

Gallery Place and Judiciary Square stations were closed during the investigations, Jordan said.

Metro spokesperson Ron Holzer said moisture, dirt or another substance likely caused the smoke. He said something had to bring the current to the stud bolt.

"Something connects them, whether it’s water or moisture or brake dust or dirt,” Holzer said. “(The) bolt becomes part of the ground(ing), and it isn’t supposed to.”

D.C. Fire and EMS responded to a call reporting a small fire on the tracks between Gallery Place and Judiciary Square at 9:55 a.m., spokesperson Doug Buchanan said.

At 10:25 a.m., Buchanan said fire personnel were clearing out of the station after not finding smoke or fire on the tracks.

Metro replaced the bolt and then resumed service, Holzer said.

Trains were kept out of the tunnel during inspections after someone reported the smoke, Holzer said. A Metro train operator had spotted the smoke while stopped at another station, likely Judiciary Square.

“There was a train that saw the smoke from one of the stations. ... (The) stretch between Gallery Place and Judiciary Square, you can see one from the other.”

Riders who needed to travel past the closed stations had to switch to the Green Line and then switch back to the Red Line or take a bus or wait as long as 45 minutes for a Metro shuttle, Metro said.

Red Line riders encountered delays once Metro resumed service between the two stations, Metro said.

The delays also occurred on the same day as terrorists allegedly attacked a subway in Russia, but most riders at Rockville encountering delays didn’t think there was any link to the two events – born out later by the facts.

“Why would terrorists attack our subway?” questioned Jared Jacoby while waiting for the Metro to take him to the Nats’ opening day. “It bursts into flames all by itself often enough. Who would bother?”



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