Photo by PoPville flickr user Julian Ortiz
“Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld today announced the resumption of six-minute rush hour service on the Orange and Silver lines, 13 weeks after a catastrophic fire knocked offline an electrical substation outside Stadium-Armory Station.
“I am pleased to be able to announce the restoration of six-minute service on the Orange and Silver lines this week,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “I want to thank the Metro customers who stayed with us despite less frequent service and crowding, and we know there is more work ahead to rebuild rider confidence and make service reliable.”
Orange and Silver line trains began consistently departing endpoint terminals at six-minute headways on Monday, December 28, for the first time since the September 21 substation fire.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Metro was forced to take several steps to protect the remaining power system, including reducing the number of trains on the line by running Orange and Silver line trains every 8 minutes during rush hours, limiting acceleration, and restricting how many trains were in the area of Stadium-Armory. While these actions were necessary to prevent an even more significant disruption in rail service, customers were subjected to more crowded, less frequent trains and frequent “stop-and-go” sluggish rides during rush hours. Metro experienced a significant drop in both on-time performance and rider satisfaction in the wake of the incident.
The restoration of normal rush-hour headways follows weeks of recovery, cleanup, testing and commissioning of new equipment. Working with PEPCO, the Stadium-Armory substation was reconnected to the power grid about a week ago and began feeding electricity to the third rail.
On Monday, September 21, a fire destroyed critical equipment at a Metro Traction Power Substation located in the parking lot of RFK Stadium, near Stadium-Armory Station. The incident resulted in the Traction Power Substation being taken offline, resulting in reduced power for the Blue, Orange and Silver lines in the area of Stadium-Armory.
The Stadium-Armory Substation is a nine-megawatt power substation that converts A/C commercial power to D/C power used to power trains via the third rail. While repairs are underway to rebuild the power substation, Metro is “feeding” power to the area of Stadium-Armory from two smaller substations farther away. To avoid overloading the system or disrupting service, Metro had to reduce train speeds and limit the number of trains passing through the area.
The fire involved one of three transformers housed at the substation, but the damage from smoke and heat extended to other equipment in the facility.
After the fire, Metro performed an initial assessment of the damage and estimated that it would take at least six months to completely rebuild the substation, replacing all traction power equipment in order to bring power back online.
Following a more thorough examination, it was determined that engineers would be able to restore two of the three transformers to factory-quality condition and return them to service on a temporary basis. This allowed Metro to restore normal service at Stadium-Armory by the end of 2015, less than initial six-month estimates. Once online, the two transformers will provide power on a temporary basis, until all three transformers are replaced with new custom built traction power equipment.”