Metro: Silver and Orange Line Back on Track, Timewise

First Silver Line train at Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike HeffnerMore than three months after a fire damaged an electrical substation near Stadium-Armory, Metro’s Silver and Orange line service is back to six-minute rush hour service, says Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld.

“I want to thank the Metro customers who stayed with us despite less frequent service and crowding, and we know there is more work ahead to rebuild rider confidence and make service reliable,” Wiedenfeld said in a statement.

Orange and Silver line trains began consistently departing endpoint terminals at six-minute intervals on Monday, for the first time since the Sept. 21 substation fire, Wiedenfeld said. The trains had been running every eight minutes since November.

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In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Metro was forced to take several steps to protect the remaining power system, including reducing the number of trains on the line by running Orange and Silver line trains every eight minutes during rush hours, limiting acceleration, and restricting how many trains were in the area of Stadium-Armory.

While these actions were necessary to prevent an even more significant disruption in rail service, customers were subjected to more crowded, less frequent trains and frequent “stop-and-go” sluggish rides during rush hours. Metro experienced a significant drop in both on-time performance and rider satisfaction in the wake of the incident.

The restoration of normal rush-hour headways follows weeks of recovery, cleanup, testing and commissioning of new equipment. Working with PEPCO, the Stadium-Armory substation was reconnected to the power grid about a week ago and began feeding electricity to the third rail.

After the fire, Metro used smaller substations to power the Stadium-Armory area. To avoid overloading the system or disrupting service, Metro had to reduce train speeds and limit the number of trains passing through the area.

After the fire, Metro’s initial assessment said it would take at least six months to completely rebuild the substation.

After a more thorough examination, it was determined that engineers would be able to restore two of the three transformers to factory-quality condition and return them to service on a temporary basis. This allowed Metro to restore normal service this week. Eventually, all three transformers will be replaced with new custom built traction power equipment, said Metro.

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