Earlier this week, a fire damaged a Metro power station near Stadium Armory Metro station. Orange and Silver Line trains are going to run less frequently for around the next six months so WMATA can make repairs.

Photo by Photographer on Flickr.

To repair a power substation taken offline after the fire, WMATA is planning to increase the time between Orange and Silver line trains during rush hour service from six to eight minutes. This means your trip will take longer, and the train will hold at stations more. WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel said the change started this morning.

WMATA is doing its repairs in three parts. First, slow restrictions are in place around Stadium Armory, capping train travel in the affected area to under 40 miles per hour.

Second, WMATA is limiting how quickly train operators can accelerate in the affected area. Trains draw the most power when they first start to move, so lowering the acceleration rate helps to decrease the load on WMATA’s power system.

The third part will affect customers the most: trains will only service the Orange and Silver lines every eight minutes each during morning and evening rush hours. Blue line service with 12 minute headways is not affected by the change.

These actions mean that your trips will take longer and trains will increase the time they spend waiting in stations. Increasing the two lines’ headways will decrease the number of trains through Stadium Armory to 20 trains per hour from about 23.5 to help decrease train delays.

The goal of the decrease in service is to limit how long trains wait to pass through the Stadium Armory area. If train flow is not handled well, riders throughout the lines could see longer waits as trains spread out or start to bunch.

Only one transformer caught fire on Monday, but the other two three-megawatt transformers were declared a complete loss as well. WMATA may need to reallocate transformers from other repair jobs if they have any, and likely also needs to order more which takes time.

WMATA expects to publish a plan of action for returning the power substation to service sometime today.


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Stephen Repetski is a Virginia native and has lived in the Fairfax area for over 20 years. He has a BS in Applied Networking and Systems Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology and works in Information Technology. Learning about, discussing, and analyzing transit (especially planes and trains) is a hobby he enjoys.