Another Metro Smoke-Related Incident
April 28, 2016
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Metro Red Line Train Incident

Another Metro smoke-related incident occured on Saturday, April 23, 2016, as an outbound eight-car Metro Red Line train was forced to reverse direction as it approached the Friendship Heights Station in Washington, DC, due to smoke filling the tunnel. Preliminary findings indicate that a metal piece had fallen off a railcar and made contact with the electrified third rail. A little over one year ago on January 12, 2015 scores of passengers were injured and one was killed at the L’Enfant Plaza station when a Metro Yellow Line train was stuck in a smoke-filled tunnel for more than 35 minutes. This was the result of an “arcing event” when a foreign object made contact with the third rail. On March 14, 2016, a fire in a tunnel near the McPherson Square station ultimately forced Metro officials to shut down the whole transit system for a full day to investigate needed repairs. The investigation revealed that in three separate places, cable damage was so severe that, had they known about it earlier, they would have immediately stopped running trains through those areas. During the inspection, officials found damaged cables, debris near the electrical areas, water infiltration and damaged connector boots.


Metro Smoke and Fire-Related Incidents are on the Rise

Unfortunately, the smoke and fire issues for Metro are trending the wrong direction. In 2015, there were 216 smoke and fire incidents which was more than double the number of such events in 2014.

Alarmingly, the Metro Red Line event last week demonstrated more than simply a failing infrastructure. Like the L’Enfant Plaza disaster of 2015, issues of Metro employees’ communications have again come front and center. When questioned about the lack of communication, Metro Chairman Jack Evans responded with more questions of his own –  “Did we follow the protocols? Was it another panic situation? And if so, why? I’m very concerned about the safety of the passengers” (WTOP). The L’Enfant Plaza catastrophe was far more than negligent maintenance of the tracks. The first alarm occurred at 3:05 pm. Over an hour later, some passengers still hadn’t been evacuated from the tunnel. The Metro Operator of the southbound train from L’Enfant Plaza Station requested permission to move the train but was told to stay in place. Mistakes regarding operation of the ventilation fans led to smoke being held on the train instead of pushed or pulled from the tunnel.

Contact Ashcraft & Gerel for a Consultation

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Metro incident, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have any questions for one of our experienced attorneys who specialize in legal cases related to major disasters, or if you would like to receive further information, please contact us online or call us at (866) 709-0505.