Recommendation to WMATA Regarding Potential Third Rail Condition

January 30, 2018

On January 25th and January 29th, two Vienna bound WMATA Orange Line trains experienced a brakes in emergency (BIE) condition while approaching the Stadium-Armory station, requiring both trains to be recovered by another. In light of this, Rail Transit OPS Group recommends the following:

  • Perform an immediate detailed inspection of the contact (third) rail on the inbound track over a distance of 3,000 feet from Chain Marker D2 245 to D2 275.
  • Until the results of the inspection are complete, implement absolute block procedures from signal D98/32 to Stadium-Armory platform to restrict trains to one at a time in the area of concern.
  • Perform a detailed inspection of rail cars 3060-3061; these cars were in both trains involved.

Events that preceded this recommendation:

On Thursday, January 25, 2018 at about 5:28 p.m., Orange Line Train 919 consisting of six 3000 series cars enroute to Vienna lost brake pipe pressure while in approach to Stadium-Armory station, came to a stop, entered a condition known as Brakes in Emergency in the approximate area of Chain Marker D2 250+00, and had to be recovered by another train.

On Monday, January 29, 2018 at 6:59 a.m., Orange Line to Vienna Train 919, also consisting of six 3000 series cars, experienced an identical malfunction in the same track circuit.

During our review of train movements through the area, eight car trains that stopped in the circuit were unaffected, as were trains that continued moving.


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