Summary on Decrease in Reports of Fire Extinguisher Discharges Aboard WMATA Rail Cars

In Spring of 2018, we began reporting when individuals would discharge fire extinguishers aboard rail cars, which would subsequently require the car to be isolated or removed from service, and cleaned as a result of the dry chemical dust that is produced during discharge. These events typically occurred on the Red Line in the afternoon on weekdays between Tenlytown-AU and Metro Center.

Over the past 4 months we’ve noticed a decrease in reports of extinguishers being discharged and began to investigate.

We’ve determined that WMATA has begun to remove the passenger accessible fire extinguisher from rail cars. Below are three photos, the first showing a fire extinguisher installed on a 7K series car, the second shows the extinguisher and associated signage removed, and the third shows the location of a removed extinguisher on a legacy 3K series rail car.

There is concern for the ability of passengers being able to respond to a fire incident in the event that both the train is disabled and operator incapacitated.

Fire Extinguisher installed under the seat for passenger access

Fire Extinguisher location showing the extinguisher removed

Fire Extinguisher location showing the extinguisher removed on a legacy car

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January 2, 2018 Shady Grove Yard Derailment

At about 6:52AM EST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, the third car of an eight-car 7000-series train preparing to enter revenue service at Shady Grove station (A15) derailed while passing a switch within the Shady Grove rail yard (A99). The only personnel aboard the train at the time of the derailment was the train operator, who was uninjured. Damages to the railcars and track infrastructure are still being assessed by Metro.

A Google Maps satellite image of the area surrounding the location of the incident. The red pin in the WMATA Shady Grove Rail Yard indicates the approximate location of the derailment relative to other landmarks, like Shady Grove station.

The non-revenue train was traversing the outer of the two “loop tracks,” which curve around the northern side of the yard, destined for Shady Grove station; upon arrival, it was expected to enter revenue service as Red Line Train 107.

The train’s operator reported a derailment of the 3rd car in the train, car 7297, after feeling the train jerk. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the scene as well as WMATA Emergency Management, Automatic Train Control, Car Maintenance, and Kawasaki personnel.

The derailment was reported over the diamond interlocking by signal A99/26. The train was intended to receive a straight-through move from A99/26 signal to A15/36 signal at Shady Grove station.

A diesel locomotive known as a Prime Mover from within the Shady Grove rail yard was dispatched to begin re-railing the train car once the incident investigation completed.

Second incident shuts down

A separate incident in which smoke was seen emanating from the Shady Grove rail yard Traction Power Station (TPS) was reported at approximately 7am. All power to the yard was brought down to allow WMATA Power crews and MCFRS to investigate.

During this time, handbrakes were applied to multiple cars on unsecured trains stored in the rail yard and train moves within the yard were halted.

The yard was reenergized at around 7:45am.


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