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There was a downed train on the Red Line this morning… and it was mine!

May 5, 2008, 3:06 PM

What a commute it was to work this morning. Lately, my commutes have been uneventful, but this one was a little more exciting than most. I got on Breda 4051 at Glenmont, the fifth car in a six-car train after missing an eight-car train by seconds. So I boarded 4051, and waited for the train to leave.

*dingdongdingdong* “Step back, doors closing!” Doors close.

*fssh* *clunk*

That clunk sound raised an eyebrow, since it’s not normally supposed to do that. But then the Breda buzz began, and we were off. Wheaton, doors open on the left. Forest Glen, doors open on the left. Silver Spring, doors open on the left. At Silver Spring, the car was full to the point where there are no seats left, but there was no one standing up. Just as well, I suppose.

So then shortly after leaving Silver Spring, we heard a loud clunk, and the train came to a rather quick stop. And we were stopped. The operator was quick to announce, “Train will be moving.” Meanwhile, the train was making some interesting sounds.

*hisssss* *clunk*
*hisssss* *clunk*

And repeat that a few more times. Greeeeeat. I’d say that its little Breda brakes were having some issues. I, being a bit of a train buff as you know, already had an idea about what was going on. Brake problem. So I basically assumed that we were going to get offloaded, and my only question was whether it would be at Silver Spring or Takoma. Then the operator confirmed my suspicions – we’re having brake problems, and they’re trying to get us going. Then the train operator came on the PA and said that they needed to check for lights. Next thing you know, the operator was back through our car. Okay. The operator then announced from the 4050 cab that our train was experiencing mechanical problems, and that our train would have to be “recovered”.

Now for those of you who don’t know, in Metro parlance, “recovery” means that they’ll have to use a second train to push the disabled train to a station to offload, and then from there, off to a yard for repairs. In coupling the second train to ours, we felt a minor thump as the two joined. Before we moved, however, more employees and a supervisor came on to take care of a few things. The people on the double-ended seats were asked to get up so that they could fiddle with the equipment underneath those seats. I thought it was pretty darn cool to look at, myself.

And then we started moving. That was odd, hearing no brake-release or motor sound as we started up. Kind of disconcerting for Metro. I got used to that on Amtrak last Christmas, but for Metro, I expect to hear a buzzing sound or a whining sound when it starts up. All the while, the supervisor was going through saying that the train would be offloaded at Takoma.

Arriving at Takoma, we were offloaded, and it was a typical offloading, as the doors opened, and they blinked the lights and such to indicate that it was time to get off. It was at this time that I found out that it was a six-car Alstom set pushing our train, presumably off to Brentwood Yard. It was weird seeing a train that long, extending well beyond the platform, that’s for sure. It was also weird feeling that clunking sound under my feet, since I was sitting almost right on top of the problem system, I believe.

And then a couple of minutes later, the next train arrived – a six-car Rohr set. I got the fifth car, Rohr 1050, and that, thankfully, went happily ever after to Dupont Circle. And I ended up being 30 minutes late to work this morning due to Metro’s little delay. Thankfully, though, no sweat there, since most of the people at work take Metro, and so if one person’s late on account of Metro, half the office will be late because of Metro. And I finished reading today’s Express while we were stopped.

I just hope this isn’t the start of a bad week for the Red Line where I have delays every day. That would make for a very rough week…

Web site: Katie asks me back in September about what happens if a train breaks down in between stations. This Journal entry today is perhaps a better answer to that question than I got to give back then...

Song: The "Numa Numa" song.

Quote: By the way, this is actually my 1,000th Journal entry! I'm as amazed as you are. It doesn't feel like I've done a thousand of these things...

Categories: WMATA