Metro riders faced delays on the Blue, Yellow and Green lines Wednesday after the agency found a cracked rail on one set of tracks and a vehicle derailed twice on another.


Metro's rail problems  


Cracked rails

»  Jan. 6: Near the Forest Glen station on the Red Line

»  Feb./March: Former General Manager David Gunn found a cracked rail near the Friendship Heights station during a two-week study.

»  April 1: Near the Takoma station on the Red Line

»  April 7: Near Woodley Park station on the Red Line

»  April 8: Between the Takoma and Silver Spring stations on the Red Line

»  April 9: Near the Medical Center station on the Red Line

»  Wednesday: Between the Naylor Road and Southern Avenue stations on the Green Line



»  Feb. 12: A Red Line train loaded with passengers derailed outside Farragut North after apparently running a red light, causing minor injuries to three riders. The train operator, who had reportedly just returned to work after a nine-year medical leave, was fired.

»  March 10: A Red Line train derailed at the Brentwood rail yard after running a red light. Two workers were suspended without pay.

»  Friday: The two middle cars of a six-car train derailed inside the New Carrollton rail yard at the end of the Orange Line, with two workers put on paid leave while the case is investigated.

»  Wednesday: A special track equipment vehicle derailed twice between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Crystal City stations at the start of the morning commute on the Blue and Yellow lines. No one was hurt but the first derailment damaged the track, causing delays.

It was the latest set of unexpected track problems on the aging system. Metro has had at least four derailments during the past four months, including one involving a packed train during the morning commute. Metro also has found at least seven cracked rails so far this year, including at least five this month. Another was one found at Friendship Heights by former General Manager David Gunn during his study of the system.


Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the agency does not know what has caused so many problems, but cited routine wear and tear on the system, which is 34 years old in some sections.

Wednesday's cracked rail was found about 7:28 a.m. on the Green Line between the Naylor Road and Southern Avenue stations, when central control crews noticed something wrong with a track circuit and train operators reported slowdowns in the area, Taubenkibel said.

Trains shared a single track for more than an hour during the morning rush as crews made a temporary fix, but the delays continued as trains were slated to travel under a 15 mph speed limit throughout the day.

Riders also faced lingering delays on the Yellow and Blue lines after a special track vehicle derailed twice. The equipment, known as a speed swing vehicle and equipped with rubber tires and track wheels, derailed between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Pentagon City stations as the system was preparing to open. It damaged some insulators on the third rail, but Taubenkibel said it was too early to know how expensive those fixes would be. It derailed a second time as it was being returned to the yard.

The agency planned to make more permanent fixes to the damaged tracks overnight, before train service resumed Thursday morning. Taubenkibel said he doesn't expect those train lines to face speed restrictions during Thursday's commutes.