Red Line service suspended from Van Ness to Farragut North for repairs

Following reports of smoke and fire Saturday night, rail service between the Van Ness and Farragut North Red Line stations has been suspended as Metro crews attempt to make repairs.

Shuttle bus service for affected customers will be operating every 10 minutes, and will remain in place until repairs are complete, WMATA said in a statement Sunday afternoon. Shuttle and L2 buses are currently operating between Van Ness and Dupont Circle.

The disruption began Saturday around 9:30 p.m. after reports of a track problem, smoke and firefighter activity at the Dupont Circle Station, WMATA tweeted.



Around midnight, DC Fire and EMS said they were working to resolve an electrical issue and, by 3:30 a.m., they tweeted that they had isolated the station’s power and the burning had stopped.

Though the department initially said that reports of smoke between the Dupont and Woodley Park stations stemmed from an arcing insulator, on Sunday afternoon they said “further inspection revealed arcing of a low voltage cable.”

“Evidence suggests that there was a failure of a low-voltage electrical cable that led to an electrical fire which damaged adjacent cables,” a statement from WMATA said.

WMATA added that Randy Clarke, Metro’s general manager, has ordered a systemwide inspection of low-voltage cables, beginning with the underground portion of the system.

Also addressed in the statement was whether a train had been directed to perform a track inspection in the area where smoke and fire had been reported.

In their statement, WMATA said that an initial investigation of data and communications showed that within two minutes of a fire alarm being activated at a drainage pumping station near Dupont Circle, the Rail Operations Control Center had tried to tell the operator of train 108 to hold at Woodley Park Station, but those communications had failed.

After the train left Woodley Park, the operator reported that “he had lost speed commands,” at which point the control center requested a visual inspection.

The train’s operator reported that he saw sparks and smoke in the tunnel ahead, and immediately stopped the train. He then reversed direction to return riders to Woodley Park.

According to WMATA, this train operator’s account and a station manager’s report from Dupont Circle were the first reports of the smoke situation.

At 1:20 a.m. Sunday, Clarke tweeted a statement apologizing to customers and thanking D.C. Fire and EMS for their response.

“It is clear this incident could have been handled better, especially in relation to communications on trains and bus shuttles,” Clarke said.

Metro says it is continuing to review radio transmissions and data to “fully understand how the emergency was managed,” he said.

There is no timeline for restoration of service at this time.

“We will have additional information for customers regarding service on Monday morning as it becomes available,” a spokesperson said.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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