Metro GM warns riders: Stay on train, even if it’s stopped

WASHINGTON — The Metrorail communication issues that can cause trains to stop on the tracks for extended periods of time can be frustrating to passengers, but the transit agency’s general manager said Wednesday that work is underway to resolve those issues, and that passengers should never exit trains outside stations.

“It’s way too dangerous,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said. “I’ve been trained to walk on those tracks [and] I don’t want to walk on those tracks.”

Metro rail tracks can be dark and slippery; there can be obstacles, and there’s potential for electrocution from the third rail that powers trains. All those factors, Wiedefeld said, should keep people from inappropriately exiting a train.

“It’s not something that you want to do unless it’s a true emergency, and not just that you’re frustrated,” Wiedefeld said.

Work continues on how to resolve the communications problems that have been responsible for some train delays in recent weeks. Work recently began on a $120 million project to replace internal radio communications and the emergency communication system that allows Metro to communicate with external fire and police departments.

Cellphone coverage is also in the process of being expanded.

“The communication system, like the rest of the system, is very old and deteriorating — we need to replace it,” Wiedefeld said.

Wiedefeld concedes the work will take some time.

“Meanwhile, we go out and inspect the (communication) system, and there are times when there are issues and we put out work orders and fix them,” Wiedefeld said.

The process is similar to what’s currently underway with repairs to the track trains run on and power that propels them.

“We have a very old system that we’re trying to bring up to speed,” Wiedefeld said.

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