Metro (WMATA)

Metro Board Had No Questions on Blue Line Train Derailment

News4 asked why it took an hour-and-a-half to get about 200 people off the stuck train and through a dark tunnel during a pandemic

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Almost 48 hours after a Metro train derailed on the Blue Line in Northern Virginia, rail service still was not restored. 

Plenty of questions remained unanswered, from what happened to why it’s taking so long to restart service between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn stations. 

But when Metro’s board of directors had a chance to ask their chief safety officer questions during a virtual meeting Thursday, they were silent.

“Are there any questions? If so, please use the ‘raise hand’ function,” board member Don Drummer said. 

He paused for a while and then continued: “Seeing none, we’ll move to the next item.” 

News4 asked why it took an hour-and-a-half to get about 200 people off the stuck train and through a dark tunnel during a pandemic. 

The transit agency said it took some time to turn on proper lighting, turn off the high-voltage third rail and get emergency personnel into the tunnel. Panicked riders called their loved ones from smoke-filled trains to say I love you. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.

“WMATA will not comment further, nor speculate on the potential cause or causes of the derailment itself,” Metro Chief Safety Officer Theresa Impastato said at the meeting Thursday. 

Metro confirmed News4’s initial reporting of a brake incident and a set of wheels that came off the tracks. 

Some passengers said communication about what was happening was poor. But Metro said its communication systems worked as they should have. 

“The train remained upright with all railcars in line. Communications remained functional,” Impastato said. 

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld went down into the tunnel and walked the path that riders had to walk to safety, the equivalent of about six football fields. He wanted to try to replicate what that walk in the dark was like, a source said. 

Hundreds of passengers were forced to climb out of a derailed WMATA Blue line Metro train and walk down a tunnel to get to safety.

The derailment investigation is expected to continue through the week, Metro said.

Blue Line trains were not running between the Pentagon and Rosslyn stations. Shuttles were serving the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon stations, with an express shuttle between the Rosslyn and Pentagon stations. 

Orange and Silver line trains were potentially delayed by single-tracking, Metro said.

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