Metro plans to open rail system on time Thursday

WASHINGTON — Metro’s rail system is expected to open at 5 a.m. Thursday after it was shut down for a full day to repair damaged jumper cables and boots found during a safety inspection.

As of 10:55 p.m. Wednesday, Metro says service on all six lines and at all 91 stations will resume at 5 a.m. Thursday.

By 10 p.m., crews had completed inspections of 600 underground jumper cables that feed power to the rails.

Metrorail did not open Wednesday to allow 22 teams of engineers and transit staff to make their way through 100 miles of tunnels.

As for service on Thursday, there is still a possibility of changes. Metro says trains on the Red, Yellow and Green lines will operate on a regular weekday schedule.

On the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, Metro says there is a “slight chance of service changes” if an ongoing repair at the Foggy Bottom station cannot be completed in time for the morning. If repairs are not finished, Metro plans to single track trains between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom, running Orange Line trains between Vienna and New Carrollton, and Silver Line trains between Wiehle-Reston and Largo. Blue Line trains would be rerouted over the Yellow Line bridge.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Wednesday evening that crews  had identified 26 areas where damaged jumper cables and connector boots needed to be replaced. Wiedefeld said that three of the cables were so badly frayed that they would not have risked running trains over them.

As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, Metro said all but four locations had been remedied, and repairs at those spots were ongoing.

Power to the rail lines had to be turned off Wednesday in order for teams of inspectors to access the electrical cables and connections.

“I know that today presented a hardship for many throughout the region, but I want to emphasize that this shutdown was indeed necessary,” Wiedefeld said. “I want to thank everyone for their patience and support in putting safety first.”

“As we go forward, I hope this is a wake-up call for the entire region … that we need to invest in our system,” said Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Chair Jack Evans.

Evans said dedicated funding for Metro was talked about when he first joined the board in the 1990s.

“And here I stand 25 years later as the chairman of the board of Metro again and no progress has been made on the issue … that is unconscionable,” he said.

“We need to invest in our system once and for all. We need to establish the dedicated funding source and once and for all, we need to support Metro.”

Tim Lovain, Chair of the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board, agrees.

Evans says he knows the worst time to ask for money is when things aren’t going well.

“It’s Paul [Wiedefeld], myself and my board who are all very committed to Metro, who are going to show you that we are turning this organization around,” he said.

“Metro is not some stand-alone organization. Metro is us.”

The unprecedented closure of the nation’s second busiest subway system was announced after a cable fire early Monday morning had similarities to an electrical fire that filled a Metro train and station with smoke killing one rider and sending scores of others to the hospital last January.

WTOP’s Ginger Whitaker contributed to this report.

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