Fed up: 2 riders bail from Red Line train stopped in tunnel

WASHINGTON — For two Metro riders, delays apparently reached the boiling point Tuesday night.

A Red Line train bound for Shady Grove stopped in a tunnel moments after leaving the Farragut North station, when the two riders pulled the emergency door release and exited the train.

“They put their lives in jeopardy,” said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. “There was no emergency, no reason for them to leave the train.”

The train stopped for a faulty track switch at 10:05 p.m. Fourteen minutes later, Stessel said the two men left the train facing the danger of the electrified third rail and other hazards including the potential of moving trains.

The train operator’s control panel gave him an indication that a door had been opened, and he may have seen the men outside the train. Using the train’s intercom he warned other riders:

“Please remain aboard the train, we’re trying to make sure the customers that exited the train are safely out of the way before we move the train, please do not exit the train.”

Because of the critical importance of a track switch, Stessel said that a maintenance worker must be called to visibly inspect the switch. It was that maintenance worker who encountered the two men in the tunnel and he escorted them back to the Farragut North platform.

While the riders waited aboard the stalled the train, back at the platform, Stessel said the two men quarreled with the station manager who called police. The men fled the station before police arrived.

Because of the men’s unauthorized presence in the tunnel, the tracks required an inspection before the train could be moved. Stessel said the men’s self-evacuation added another 25 minutes onto what already had been a 14-minute delay.

A rider aboard the stalled train said that frustration grew because of the delay and the little information shared by the operator and that’s when the men pulled the emergency door release.

“It doesn’t excuse leaving the train,” Stessel said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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