WMATA: Immediate Action Needed to Replace Porcelain Third Rail Insulators at Federal Triangle Station

For Immediate Action by WMATA:

C-2017-01: Replacement of Porcelain Third Rail Insulators at Federal Triangle Station

In May 2016, after two separate incidents of exploding porcelain third rail insulators at McPherson Square and Federal Center SW stations (Rail Transit OPS is also reviewing another unreported incident), WMATA’s General Manager ordered all porcelain insulators be replaced with fiberglass insulators within the limits of all underground stations. This was reported to have been completed over the summer of 2016.

On November 17th, 2016 during a routine system evaluation, Rail Transit OPS personnel identified two porcelain insulators still installed within platform limits at Federal Triangle station on Track 1 (Largo/New Carrollton; Chain Marker D1 15+30). As of March 2nd, 2017, Rail Transit OPS is not aware of any action that has been taken to address these insulators as they remain unreplaced. Third rail insulator replacement requires, on average, approximately 5-10 minutes per insulator while power is deenergized to the third rail.

Below is a photo from March 2nd, 2017 depicting one of the insulators in question. The other is approximately 18 feet away.


Rail Transit OPS Group is an independent, publicly-funded group that monitors rail transit operations, performance, and safety procedures to proactively address potential issues. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.