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Service Returns To Stadium-Armory Metro Six Weeks After Transformer Fire

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The original schedule called for disruptions at the Stadium-Armory Metro through the spring.
Adam Moss: https://flic.kr/p/zFoAr9
The original schedule called for disruptions at the Stadium-Armory Metro through the spring.

A rare bit of good news greeted riders on Metro’s Silver, Orange, and Blue Lines Monday morning. All three lines are stopping again at the Stadium-Armory stop, six weeks after a transformer fire at a power substation sapped the electrical capacity of the tracks. A speed restriction also has been lifted.

The restoration of service comes months ahead of the original schedule forecast by Metro. The transit authority first believed the electrical capacity issues would not be solved until the spring.

Only Blue Line trains were servicing Stadium-Armory during rush hours since the Sept. 21 fire, and the speed restriction limited trains to 15 miles per hour in the affected area. The result was stop-and-go commutes as trains bunched in the tunnels. In the days immediately after the fire, delays were extensive.

“By removing the speed restrictions we will be moving through that segment of track at 45 miles per hour instead of 15 miles per hour,” said Andy Off, Metro’s head of transit infrastructure.

Normal service has not resumed entirely. Orange and Silver Line trains are running at 8-minute intervals instead of the usual 6-minute headways.

“Our intent is to go back to six on the Orange and Silver Lines prior to the end of this calendar year,” Off said.

Metro has not replaced the destroyed transformer yet. It figured out another way to restore power to the tracks.

“The restoration of normal service at Stadium-Armory is possible thanks to emergency upgrades at an adjacent power substation, located near Potomac Avenue Station. In response to the fire, crews identified a creative workaround by adding 3 megawatts of electrical output at the Potomac Avenue substation, in addition to its original capacity of 4 megawatts,” said a statement released by the transit authority.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, and Off said it may prove impossible to solve because the damage was so severe.

Metro apparently averted massive ridership losses during the weeks of inconvenience. As WAMU 88.5 reported in mid-October, significantly fewer trains were squeezing through the Silver, Orange, and Blue Line tunnels but total trips at key stations on the Orange and Silver Lines dropped just 1 to 2 percent.

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