Incidents happen on the railroad with varying severity, from door issues to brake problems, single-tracking, and trains hitting people. While each situation is unique, they typically follow the same general timeline. Our attempt here is not to predict exactly what will happen, but to shed light onto what actions need to happen and how long service might be impacted.
WMATA fatal passenger strike
A fatal train strike typically means that service will be disrupted for approximately three hours.
Upon report of a person struck, service at the station (especially side-platform stations) will be suspended to allow emergency personnel access to the trackbed. They will attempt to initially extract the person if they are under the train, but if there are no signs of life, then the operation becomes one of recovery.
Once on scene, Metro Transit Police will take over control and assist/initiate EMS efforts. One those finish, they will ensure the scene is investigated, photographed, and documented as needed.
When the scene is turned over to WMATA Rail Transportation, track personnel will inspect the tracks to check for any potential damage, and plant maintenance personnel will clean the trackbed.
MARC/Amtrak train fatal pedestrian strike in Maryland (3-track territory)
When a pedestrian strike is reported, all service on the affected line is suspended for fire department and emergency medical service personnel to gain access to the roadway and perform their jobs.
Around two hours after the incident occurred, service may begin to be restored. The track the incident occurred on as well as any directly adjacent track will remain out of service for investigation and inspection activities, but one or two other tracks in the area may reopen for train movement. Delays at this point likely will average around ~1 to 1.5 hours.
Significant delays for trains should be expected for around three to four hours after the incident occurred, depending on the length of the investigation required. Delays seen in the past have been approximately two hours for some trains on the Penn line.
Some trains likely will continue to be canceled four to five hours after the incident due to congestion and delays due to the limited open trackage available.
Until all tracks reopen, trains will experience delays due to congestion from other delayed trains.