Metro: Arcing at Gallery Place involved track fastener

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Equipment involved in an electrical fire at Gallery Place Metro Station Monday evening has been sent to a laboratory for testing.

Metro said that the electrical arcing, which created smoke on the station tracks during the evening rush hour, involved a bolt or fastener assembly that was holding down the rail furthest away from the electrified third rail.

The Green and Yellow lines were shut down between L’Enfant Plaza and Mt. Vernon Square for several hours because of the incident, triggering delays and crowding at other stations.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Tuesday that communication with riders could have been better.

“Yes, some of that could be handled better, I get it. But safety trumped everything, so that was most important,” Wiedefeld said.

He said riders on the train that first saw the arcing incident, which lasted for 1 to 2 minutes, were taken off that train after about 20 minutes. The train operator had stopped in the tunnel just outside the station to avoid running over the part of the track having problems.

The lower platform that is used by Green and Yellow line riders was cleared quickly following the incident, Metro said.

A station manager came down with a fire extinguisher to put out the initial electrical fire. Metro believes much of what riders saw later that appeared to be smoke might have been remnants from the fire extinguisher.

When Metro believed the tracks were ready to reopen, an empty test train passed through the area and triggered a similar electrical problem in the same location.

Only after the entire fastener assembly was removed and another test train went through did the tracks finally reopen around 10 p.m.

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