NTSB takes lead in Blue Line derailment investigation; service still stopped in Arlington

A Blue Line train to Franconia-Springfield experiences a malfunction while inside a tunnel between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery. (Courtesy Mayra Rivera)

The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the derailment of a Metro Blue Line train outside Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday that left riders stranded in the dark during the evening commute.

In a message to Metro employees, General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and the transit agency would participating in the investigation. “Every employee who is asked for information or involved in the investigation is expected to fully cooperate with the NTSB and be governed by their process,” Wiedefeld said in the message.

“We share a sense of urgency to understand why the derailment occurred,” Wiedefeld said, although he said he wouldn’t speculate on the cause of the derailment until the investigation was completed.

Blue Line service remained suspended between the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom stations Wednesday. Free shuttle buses replaced Metrorail service at the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon stations on Wednesday. Inbound Blue Line trains continue into D.C. along the Yellow Line before turning around at the Mount Vernon Square station.

Metro first received word of a disabled 7000-series Blue Line train around 5 p.m. Tuesday inside the railway tunnel between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations.

Arlington fire crews helped around 200 passengers navigate the dark to get out of the tunnel; at the time of the derailment, the train was located about 1,800 feet from the station platform at Arlington Cemetery, WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington reported.

Passenger Mayra Rivera was riding the train when she said she saw smoke all of a sudden.

“It wasn’t a lot of smoke. It was just a little bit of smoke. They were trying to get it running, but it just kept stopping,” Rivera told WTOP, adding that stranded riders were later escorted in groups of 25 for the quarter-mile walk underground back to Arlington Cemetery station.

One person was transported to a hospital in stable condition, Arlington County Fire and EMS services said. No other details were available on the nature of the person’s injury.

As the Blue Line disruption continued Wednesday, commuters seeking an alternative should be aware that Metro’s Orange and Silver lines are single-tracking between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom due to the work zone set up as a result of Tuesday’s derailment. Expect delays in both directions.

WTOP's Neal Augenstein checks in with commuters at Franconia-Springfield station

Reporting from Franconia-Springfield on Wednesday morning, WTOP’s Neal Augenstein said some early commuters were just learning about the Blue Line closure from audio announcements and electronic displays.

“I heard it over the loudspeaker, so I’m over here trying to figure out what that means for me,” said one McPherson Square-bound rider, who settled on transferring to a Silver Line train in downtown Washington.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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