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Overnight Metro collision sparks all-day delays on three lines

The Orange, Blue, and Silver lines are experiencing slower service today

A Metro station sign along the wall of a subway station.
Foggy Bottom–GWU Metro station
Shutterstock

Original post, 10 a.m.:

Two out-of-service Metro trains crashed into each other early Monday morning, triggering delays expected to last all day on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines, the transit agency said. Metro added that it is investigating the cause of the collision, which happened just before 1 a.m. between the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West stations. Both trains’ conductors sought medical attention for minor injuries and no damage to the rails or tunnel has been reported.

Trains on the three lines are running every 15 minutes, and single-tracking is in effect from the McPherson Square to Farragut West stations, according to Metro. “Metro has launched a full investigation to determine the cause of the incident, including analysis of event recorders and inspections of railcar and signal systems,” the transit agency explained in a release. “In addition, Metro notified the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and the National Transportation Safety Board as required.” The two six-car trains that collided were both heading east on the same track, toward their rail yards, when one hit the rear of the other.

The transit agency is encouraging customers on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines to take alternative transportation to get around Monday. No passengers were involved in the crash.

Update, 12:20 p.m.:

Metro says both train operators were interviewed by investigators from the transit agency and the Metrorail Safety Commission after being released from the hospital. The operators also “underwent routine post-incident drug/alcohol testing” and the investigation continues.

Update, 1:30 p.m.:

In a series of tweets, the safety commission says its staff will be at the crash scene all day and an initial review finds that the front car of the striking train was “significantly damaged.” The commission says it will examine the trains’ movements before the collision and other details.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says she was briefed on the incident by Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. At-Large D.C. Councilmember Robert White, who chairs the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board, says he wants to see a “significant investigation.”

Update, 4:45 p.m.:

In a release, Metro says the striking train was traveling at about 11 mph when it hit the other train, which was stopped. “While Metro has not yet identified the root cause of the incident, investigators have found no evidence of a signal system failure and have ruled out ‘loss of shunt’ [a track circuit failure] as a cause,” it notes.Data analysis shows that all trains in the area were properly detected by the signal system, and appropriate speed commands were sent to the trains to maintain safe spacing.” Human factors may have been a possible cause.

The train conductors will not work during the investigation, Metro adds, and the trains were heading back to the rail yards after extended late-night service for the Washington Nationals home playoff game Sunday. Metro says it will clear the trains from the tracks once the rail system closes at midnight to avoid further service disruptions. Major delays and crowding are still anticipated on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines for the rest of Monday, per Metro.