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Metrorail to be shut down Wednesday for emergency inspections

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 17:23:39-04

The D.C. Metrorail system will be shut down Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system’s third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday.

The Metrorail system will close at midnight Wednesday and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday.

The inspections of approximately 600 “jumper cables” will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.

“While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause.”

The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.

“The investigation into yesterday’s cable fire at McPherson Square is ongoing,” Wiedefeld said.  “As a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system.”

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner released the following statement on the Metrorail closing:

“It’s sad that it’s come to this, but hundreds of thousands of people depend on the safety of the Metro system. We need to take it seriously. I’m glad that Metro’s new leadership is treating system safety with an appropriate sense of urgency.”

Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. The public is advised to make alternate travel arrangements as early as possible.