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Metro says a “foreign object” appears to have come into contact with a third-rail along the Red Line this past Saturday, based on a preliminary investigation the agency has conducted of a horrid smoke incident.

The object? A stray “metal part of a railcar,” Metro explains in a release: “The foreign contact is believed to have caused a loud noise, flash, and smoke. Investigators have conducted inspections of all power infrastructure in the tunnel, as well as all cars of the incident train, to reach this preliminary conclusion.”

According to the agency, investigators do not believe power cables contributed to the incident which forced the evacuation of a Shady Grove-bound Red Line train that was about to travel between the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights stations. Metro says other preliminary findings from the rail investigation include:

  • “At approximately 7:19 p.m., Saturday, April 23, the operator of Red Line train #107 traveling outbound reported hearing a loud boom and smoke entering the lead car.
  • The train consisted of eight cars: four 5000-series and four 1000-series.
  • The train stopped in the tunnel prior to Friendship Heights Station.
  • Passengers were moved into the trailing cars of the train.
  • The train operator was instructed to reverse direction and was given permission to move back to Tenleytown Station, where the train was offloaded.
  • Prior to the train being moved, an unknown passenger pulled an emergency door release, causing the train to lose “all doors closed” indication. It was confirmed that no passengers “self evacuated” from the train. Once all doors were confirmed closed, the train was moved.
  • There were no injuries.”

The Federal Transit Administration, which has safety oversight of Metro, is also investigating the incident.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery