Metro track work could disrupt rush hour in coming months

WASHINGTON — Metro track work could disrupt rush hours in the months to come in order to fix third rail power cables that the National Transportation Safety Board says do not have proper watertight seals.

Metro Deputy General Manager Rob Troup says 80 percent of Metro’s 6400 cable systems along mainline tracks will need to be fixed. Contractors who installed some of them were permitted to use other materials like electrical tape that the NTSB believes do not do enough to keep water from seeping into the power systems and creating smoke situations.

Troup says even if week-long single-tracking is not approved, there will be a return to mid-day single-tracking delays in addition to weekend work.

Separately, Troup told the Metro Board’s Finance Committee Thursday that a train operator kept going on May 31, even after a passenger hit the intercom to say that a door had opened while the train was moving.

That car, and two others that have had doors open while a train was moving in the last two weeks, was part of the 4000 series. The 100 of those cars Metro is still using have been pulled from service through at least the start of next week while parts are inspected and tested.

Troup says there is no sign of a particular, systemic problem like the one that sidelined the 4000 series fleet for a few weeks in 2010.

With the maintenance on the 4000 series and other cars, Metro plans to run far fewer 8 car trains than usual on Mondays and Fridays through at least September.

In addition to providing more opportunities for car maintenance, it will lead to less power being used and drawn through the third rail.

Metro leaders acknowledge it will lead to more crowding for riders.

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