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One week after he delivered wide-ranging remarks about his plans to fix the troubled transit agency, Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld apologized for Monday morning’s huge mess along the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.

“I apologize for the delay, inconvenience, and crowding you experienced this morning—and that you may experience again later today,” he said in a release describing the situation that resulted from a tunnel fire near the McPherson Square station. “Be assured that as we respond to these matters as they arise, we continue to advance plans to improve safety and service reliability to reduce recurrences in the future.”

According to Metro, the fire was first reported around 4:30 a.m., just half an hour before the rail system opened. Once emergency responders controlled the fire, trains began to single-track between the Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations. This led to commuting delays of between 30 minutes and an hour as passengers crowded on station platforms.

The agency says it’s working with multiple government agencies to determine the cause of the fire. Metro will begin relevant repair work at 9 p.m., when it will suspend service between the Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations.

“Unfortunately, the fire damaged several cables that will need to be replaced tonight in order to restore full service for tomorrow,” Wiedefeld explained in his statement. “Single tracking will continue throughout the day and will affect the evening commute. If you have the ability to consider alternate travel options today, I encourage you to do so.”

Today’s service changes include the following, per Metro:

  • “Blue and Orange line trains will continue to share a single track between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle during the afternoon and evening hours. This will result in delays in both directions. You should consider travel alternates if possible, such as the Yellow Line between D.C. and Virginia or Metrobus options if available.
  • Silver Line trains will continue operating between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston only. Customers should use Orange Line trains to complete their trip between Virginia and D.C.
  • During the evening rush hour, Blue and Orange eastbound trains will skip Farragut West and McPherson Square to reduce delays. Listen for station announcements, check platform signs or sign up for MetroAlerts for details.
  • Starting at 9 p.m., all rail service will be suspended in both directions between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle to allow for repairs. Metro will provide shuttle bus service between the affected stations. Please allow additional travel time.”

Metro will not issue a mass refund for this morning’s issues; riders will need to apply for individual reimbursements.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery