Metro Signals, Switches in SafeTrack Stage 2 Area Causing Train Delays

Top leaders for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are trying to figure out why track switches and signals continued to malfunction in an area that was just addressed by a SafeTrack surge.

There have been eight separate signal and switch problems in the area just outside of the Stadium Armory station since SafeTrack surge 2 ended, according to Metro. There was also a need for unscheduled track repairs. In some cases, it took hours to diagnose and deal with the problem, leading to significant delays.

The troubled area is an elevated section of track along Benning Road in Northeast Washington, known as the D&G junction.

"It will remain a priority until we are sure that we are getting the reliability we expect," said Metro chief spokesperson Dan Stessel in an email. He said Metro's Assistant General Manager Andrew Off, who is in charge of the rail system, is personally looking into the issue.

Metro said switches and signals work as one unit, meaning everything has to be aligned properly or they won't function correctly.

"There were four incidents related to one switch," said Stessel. "Unfortunately, it took four times to finally identify the root cause, which turned out to be debris in a track circuit that was causing the interlocking to revert to safe state, meaning all signals went to red. It is fair to say that these are SafeTrack related."

Another incident was blamed on an issue in a train control room. Metro said the control room issue was not related to SafeTrack work.


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As recently as Monday night, there were two other track and signal issues. Those happened at a brand new switch, and Metro said it has not identified a root cause.

"None of these incidents presented a safety risk. As designed, the interlocking will go to a safe state, and trains will be held at red signals when there is an issue," said Stessel.

Meanwhile, riders continue to wait in delays, even after they endured a 16-day total SafeTrack shutdown in that part of the system.

"This should have been taken care of a long time ago. Because right now, it's a lot of inconvenience for everybody," said Metro rider Delories Riles Tuesday.

"They could do better in keeping the upkeep of the service," said rider Eric Griffin.

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