WASHINGTON — Metro has released new information about smoke incidents that occurred in multiple stations this past weekend, including one incident passengers described as an “explosion.”
Metro now says there was a sudden release of electric current at the Woodley Park station this past Saturday, which was the result of a high voltage cable shorting out on a rail car.
“That caused the arc flash and the resulting bang” heard by riders, according to Metro Deputy General Manager Rob Troup. He said a loose rivet “probably wore the insulation down on the cable,” leading to the short. It happened on a 3000 series car, and Troup says those cars have since been checked for potential wiring issues.
Initially, Metro said only that the problems at Woodley Park, which led to the temporary closure of the station, were the result of mechanical trouble. D.C. Firefighters had said a problem with a train’s brakes were to blame.
Troup insisted the risk to riders on the train from the electric short was “minimal,” and his main concern was the risk to passengers on the platform.
The Woodley Park incident was one of four involving smoke in Metro stations over the past weekend.
On Sunday, a foreign object caused a short at the L’Enfant Plaza station, and on Saturday and Sunday there were issues at the Foggy Bottom station, where there was a problem with the wires that deliver power to the third rail.
“I don’t know that I would characterize them as serious,” Troup said of the weekend incidents. However, he added, “We absolutely are paying attention to those and we’re making immediate corrections.”
Troup insisted that the Metro system is “absolutely” safe despite the recent incidents, and says the overall number of smoke incidents is going down.