Metrorail Daily Service Report Summary Chart

Below are consolidated charts showing train incidents on a weekly basis and month to date

Charts created by Discovery Performance Analysis from data provided by WMATA via Daily Service Reports.

Below is Month to Date:

March 1 – 15, 2015

All Charts broken down by week – week begins Monday & ends Sunday

March 2015 DSR 1-15


Offloaded: Any time a train is offloaded

Door: Any time a train is delayed or offloaded due to a door problem

Brake: Anytime a train is delayed or offloaded due to a brake problem

Expressed: Anytime a train is expressed or skipped past a station

Did Not Operate: Anytime a scheduled train is not operated from its departure terminal for any reason

Signal: Anytime a train is delayed or offloaded due to signal problem

Track: Anytime a train is delayed or offloaded due to a track problem (includes cracked rails, track fires)

Platform Overrun: Any report of a train being unable to service a station

New Weekly & Monthly Charts for WMATA Daily Service coming soon

Starting on Monday, March 16, 2015 we will begin posting a chart displaying the various major disruptions posted via WMATA Daily Service Reports website. These charts will show incidents initially on a weekly & monthly basis (a decision on a daily chart will be made in the future). Weekly charts will be attempted to be posted no later than Tuesday at 1:00 PM and by the 3rd of the following month that is being displayed. Obviously this is contingent on WMATA updating their website, in the event we are unable to update at the time posted, we will post a notification on here. Please feel free to comment on here or on Facebook or Twitter where all our post are shared on.

Theory of Increase of Brake Malfunctions on Metrorail

As most passengers have noticed there has been an increase in Metro train offloads due to either a brake malfunction or a door malfunction. I’ll give a theory on brakes.

About Metro Brakes:

There are two braking systems on Metro trains, the first is called dynamic braking and is the best description would be placing your car in a lower gear, then there are friction brakes which work similar to disc brakes in your car. Dynamic braking slows the train down to less than 5 MPH, at which point the friction bakes take over and bring the train to a stop.

Now there are two possibilities that could be causing the increase in brake problems; the first being mixing to railcar series, while every Metrorail car is build with the same design specifications, minor differences exist between the series and the rate at which the brakes apply will vary, especially in a train consisting of 4000 series cars in the middle (which is rare), since the 4000 series will change over between dynamic & friction at a higher speed than the other cars in the fleet. When the braking rates don’t match up the cars will in most instances jerk as the train comes to a stop. The solution to this is to create consists within the same series, which unless Metro changes its operational policy of bellying 1000 series, will not happen until at least 2016 at the earliest as the 1000 series begin to be phased out and the 7000 series come into service.

The other possibility is due to the operator whether its due to inexperience or poor train handling skills, the only solution to this is more training.

As a result the brakes will on occasion get stuck and  as the train moves the brake pads are heated in the same way that would occur if you had your parking brake engaged and drove on the highway, with an exception; sometimes at a certain point the brakes can lock in the fully engaged mode and the train is unable to move and rail car maintenance will have to arrive and override the braking system which requires all passengers to exit the train.

How Did the Smoke Enter L’Enfant Plaza on 1/12/15

There has been back & forth between DC Fire & EMS, & Metro as to the functionality of ventilation fans at L’Enfant Plaza on January 12, 2014.

Here’s the most likely explanation:

At 3:06 the power cable which transfers 750 volts from one third rail segment to another begins smoking and opens (or trips) the circuit breaker near 9th & Water Streets SW. This location is just prior to the Yellow line crossing under the Washington Channel, it’s also the location of both a ventilation shaft & emergency egress shaft, and it’s the location where the Yellow Line inbound track separates to cross under the Green Line to join up just south of L’Enfant Plaza.

Once the cables started smoking, at least two Yellow line trains traveling inbound toward Greenbelt passed through the area; now as most Metro passengers know when a train moves through a tunnel it pushes air ahead of it, and the tunnel just prior to the location has openings between both tracks to equalize airflow, therefore a train heading inbound could create a pressure wave that would push smoke on the outbound track back toward L’Enfant Plaza station.

Also after a train has passed there is a low pressure or vacuum created behind a train which would pull smoke behind it. So the combination of two Yellow Line trains passing the incident area would have moved smoked back toward L’Enfant Plaza while the vent fans which were activated at 3:16 would have in effect countered each other – Vent Fans pulling smoke to the south & train air currents pulling smoke to the north.

Also Metro continued to operate Blue, Orange, & silver Line trains through the lower level, and while not as strong the pressure and vacuum forces from these trains would have assisted in pulling the smoke into the station.

Had all train traffic been immediately halted the vent fans would have cleared the smoke quicker.

Recommendation to WMATA: 15-5 Upon notification of an open (tripped) circuit breaker anywhere on the mainline of metrorail operations, immediately suspend all rail traffic within the two nearest vent shafts/ tunnel portals, and activate exhaust fans, if a station is located between the two venting locations, contact all station managers to inspect the stations for any sign of smoke, also activate cameras to view toward the location of the tripped third rail, if smoke is observed immediately suspend ALL rail traffic including on different levels if at a transfer station and initiate bus bridges.. Dispatch either Metro Transit Police or have an offloaded train proceed through the area at a speed no greater than 15 MPH to inspect area for smoke and or fire.

Increased Service on WMATA after Washington Nationals home games

Would you consider paying a surcharge boarding at Navy Yard after a home game of the Nationals if you got the following:

  • Departures every three minutes from Navy Yard for the first 90 minutes following the final out of the game
  • Rush hour level service for the remainder of the system for two hours after the end of game
  • Direct service to Virginia from Navy Yard without transferring

Please complete the following poll and we’ll prepare an analysis based on the results and share with WMATA.

*Discovery Performance Analysis provides independent transportation analysis and oversight services to improve performance of operations *

September 30, 2014 Cracked Rail at Dupont Circle Response Analysis

At approximately 7:15 AM, on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 A crack was detected on the Red Line on Track 1, normally used for Glenmont trains between Woodley Park & Dupont Circle, service on Track 1 was suspended, and single track operations was initiated from the interlocking south of Van Ness – UDC to the interlocking north of Dupont Circle, using Track 2 for operations. Also selected trains were instructed to express through Woodley Park & Cleveland Park stations.

The delay lasted approximately 4 hours and was complete with crowded trains, poor communication & coordination. Some procedures that should have been implemented are as follows:

  • Implement a core train – running service from NoMa – Farragut North, using the pocket track at Farragut North and the lead track at Brentwood Yard to reverse trains
  • Continue to service Cleveland Park & Woodley Park stations; this simple decision to express trains past these two stations resulted in the largest amount of complaints and increased crowded conditions as passengers had to reverse back to their stations given poor public address systems or lack of communications.
  • Holding trains traveling in the peak passenger direction; In no case should trains carrying passengers inbound a) expressed through stations, b) Held for longer than 10 mins
  • Short turn trains that have already serviced the core of the system, select Glenmont bound trains could have been reversed at NoMa to help clear Union Station, also select Shady Grove bound trains could have been reversed at Van Ness.

Based on the performance displayed and procedures followed, it is the finding of our analysis that the primary cause of the massive delays was a combination of the cracked rail which was compounded by the failure of Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) controllers to properly manage the flow of rail traffic in respect to passenger flow during the duration of the incident.

The two recommendations are:

  • Require ROCC controllers to maintain an active and working knowledge or the territory they cover on a weekly or biweekly period.
  • During an incident that occurs during rush hour, controllers should attempt to maintain priority flow of traffic in the direction of peak traffic flow, as well as implementing constant core coverage to keep crowds as small as possible.

Metro to return to Automatic Train Operation beginning in mid-October 2014

Written by: Roger Bowles

Metro GM Richard Sarles has announced that Metrorail will begin a phased return to automatic train operation or ATO in mid October on the Red Line during off-peak hours with full-time automatic operation resuming approximately 6 months later.

Metro ended automatic operation immediately after the June 22, 2009 Fort Totten collision that claimed 9 lives. The accident was due to a failed track circuit which failed to communicate to one train that another was stopped on the track ahead of it.

My analysis of the accident is somewhat different from the NTSB report. First the accident would have occurred whether trains were operated in automatic or manual mode as the failure was in the track circuit and not in the equipment that operates the train. The track circuit job is to 1) detect the presence or absence of a train within a given section of track and 2) adjust the speed limit of other trains accordingly.

The train operator of train 214, the train that was struck was operated in manual mode (in violation of Metro procedure at the time) and lost speed commands when the train entered the defective track circuit and manually stopped the train quickly enough that the train remained within the defective circuit, and in effect “disappeared” to the system. Train 112 which was following and in automatic mode was informed electronically by speed commands that the track was clear ahead, now whether train 112 was in automatic or manual mode the operator would have operated based on the speed commands and only upon seeing the train engaged emergency braking which was done. Now had train 214 been in automatic mode there is a possibility the train would’ve stopped just inside the next circuit about 500 feet ahead of where the train stopped. This would’ve changed the speed commands to train 112 to begin slowing down, so that when the train ahead was visible there would’ve been slightly more room for braking to become effective thereby reducing the amount of damage and possibly injuries.

Since 2009 train operators have operated trains manually with the speed limits issued based on track circuits, so the only tangible difference is a rougher ride that places more wear & tear on train motors and brakes as well as causes delays in schedules.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post

My recommendation would be that ATO operation resume during non rush hours system wide starting in October with a six month period to focus on potential hot spots and focus on replacement operation when a hot spot is discovered. After a 90 trouble-free test period then begin rush hour service in ATO.

Over the next 60 days I will be randomly checking out the status of track circuits over the entire rail system.

*** Roger Bowles is the Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Performance Analysis, a transportation & business analysis company. Our transportation analysis service includes mass transit analysis and is publicly funded, to find out how to give email  ***