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Third time’s the charm when it comes to Metro, apparently…

March 29, 2011, 10:00 PM

I certainly had an exciting commute home this evening, that’s for sure. My commute took 35 minutes longer than usual, and involved three Metro trains and one Ride On bus. Of those, one train and the bus are considered normal for my commute. I have a one-seat train ride, you see, going from Dupont Circle to Glenmont in the evening (and vice versa in the morning).

So on this evening’s commute, I went down into Dupont Circle station at exactly 5:44 PM according to the clock on the SunTrust building in Dupont Circle, as per usual. I got down into the station, and missed catching Breda 4018 (best known for being the struck train in the Woodley Park-Zoo accident) by seconds. Seriously, if the mezzanine-to-platform escalator had been running, I would have made that train, and ridden Breda 4018 home. But since I missed it, I had to wait on the platform for the next Glenmont train, sitting out one Silver Spring train in the process.

When my Glenmont train came, it was headed by Breda 3021 (I ride in the lead car coming home). This was pretty normal so far. I got in, got a seat right away, and got comfortable for my ride home. We made it from Dupont Circle all the way to Takoma station without incident. Then at Takoma, we started having a door problem. The train operator started going around and around and around with the doors, opening, closing, opening, closing, etc. trying to get the doors to do what they were supposed to do. Once I saw the train operator get on the radio, though, I knew what was likely coming next.

So I tweeted about it:

Door problem on my Glenmont train at Takoma station. Waiting to get offloaded… #wmata
March 29 6:19 PM

And no sooner had I spoken (well, tweeted) it, when we all heard the magic words come over the train’s PA system: “This train is now out of service.” And so we were offloaded, and I had this to say about it:

And offloaded. Breda 3021 is out of service at Takoma, Glenmont side. #wmata
March 29 6:20 PM

Everyone knew the drill. Just kind of shuffle off the train and onto the platform, and wait for the next Red Line train. This was the scene on the platform after we were offloaded:

Train offloaded at Takoma

This really was a we-all-know-the-drill kind of situation, too. Everyone just stood around on the platform waiting, and no one was talking. Very quiet. Eventually, the train was able to leave Takoma station. As our offloading caused a bit of a delay, once the offloaded train was out of the way, the next train was right behind it, ready to pick us up to take us to Glenmont. Whether this train had previously been a Silver Spring train before the first train was offloaded, I’m not sure, but it seems likely, considering that rush hour service on the Red Line usually alternates between Glenmont trains and Silver Spring trains. But in any case, this second train had Breda 4013 in the lead position, and so Breda 4013 was going to be my ride to Glenmont, or so I thought.

So I got on, and made myself comfortable. Then I noticed that we were sitting outside Silver Spring station. I also knew that the train that was directly in front of ours was the train that we had been offloaded from earlier. Coupled with the train operator’s announcement that we were waiting due to a train on the platform, I was able to put a few things together, and it wasn’t looking good for my commute.

Then we started creeping up to the platform, and I noticed that the train ahead of us was still there. Take a look:

Then we started creeping up to the platform, and I noticed that the train ahead of us was still there.

I knew exactly what was going on. The train that we had been offloaded from earlier at Takoma had made it to Silver Spring, but was now really dead, and wasn’t going anywhere without a little boost from another train, like that nice little Breda consist directly behind it… that all of us had just gotten onto after having been offloaded from the first train. Well, nuts. We were going to get offloaded again.

On the other hand, I did have a ringside view of the whole coupling with the downed train (Breda 3021 leading) and then moving the recovery train (Breda 4013 leading) onto the platform so that it could offload. Take a look:

What you are seeing is the view from the railfan window on Breda 4013. The trailing car on the downed train is CAF 5000. First they coupled the trains together to make one massive 14-car train, and then they brought Breda 4013 up to the eight-car mark to offload us. Note that they were controlling the train from Breda 4013, which was now in the seventh position. Additionally, a rail supervisor was walking along the platform, with his hand on the cab window. I don’t know why he had his hand on there, but we certainly were creeping along to the end of the platform.

And then as soon as the video ended, the doors opened, and we were offloaded. And now you can see that Breda 4013 was coupled to CAF 5000, and that we also slightly overshot the platform:

And now you can see that Breda 4013 was coupled to CAF 5000, and that we also slightly overshot the platform.

The conversation amongst the Metro personnel at this point was how to get the train back to the yard, as they were instructed to take the recovered train to Brentwood. The problem was that there was a train following too close behind to cross over using the switch south of the station, so they had to do something else. But first, they sent a third Glenmont train, led by CAF 5158, in on the Shady Grove side to pick everyone up to go to Glenmont.

Boarding CAF 5158, we crossed back over to the Glenmont side via the Silver Spring pocket track, and it was smooth sailing from there to Glenmont. My only question now was whether I would make the Ride On 51 bus that leaves Glenmont at 7:05, or whether I would need to take a Y bus home. I was tweeting about it, first from earlier when we were on Breda 4013 between Takoma and Silver Spring:

Something tells me that I will be missing my #RideOn 51 bus at Glenmont. #wmata
March 29 6:33 PM

And then again on CAF 5158 on the way to Glenmont:

Now the question is, will I make the last 51 of the night, or is there a Y9 in my future tonight? It might be close… #wmata
March 29 7:02 PM

Turns out that I made it, though I was cutting it really close. I got the 51 after sprinting up the stairs and the escalator at Glenmont, and I was home soon after that. Thank goodness. This was certainly a commute that I will not soon forget, and it was quite educational as well, seeing the Metro employees recover a train.

Web site: A previous occasion when I was on a train that was involved in a recovery, in May 2008. In that case, I was in the fifth (of six) car of the downed train.

Song: A Red Line train departs Wheaton station for Glenmont

Quote: Here was a comment to a few of my fellow riders that got a few laughs as we boarded CAF 5158. I said, "They said Red Line to Glenmont, but how do we know that they mean it this time?"

Categories: Commuting, WMATA