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Service restored on Metro -- expect residual delays

Tuesday - 12/20/2011, 2:27pm  ET

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Metro service was shut down on the Blue and Orange Lines between Metro Center and Federal Center. (WTOP Photo/Adam Tuss)
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Evacuation was 'surreal'

Adam Tuss, WTOP news

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WASHINGTON - Normal operations have resumed on the Blue and Orange lines between Metro Center and Federal Center after a train malfunction suspended service for most of the morning.

Officials say a friction ring, which is part of the brake system, fell off an Orange Line train between Smithsonian and L'Enfant Plaza shortly before 9:45 a.m.

Metro says the ring made contact with the electrified third rail, causing smoke until power was cut shortly after the incident.

Passengers reported seeing smoke and a flash of light, but Metro says there was no fire.

The power was immediately turned off the third rail to allow officials to investigate the situation on the tracks, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says.

One woman says she immediately thought about Sept. 11 when she heard a series of loud bangs while riding the train. She surfaced from the Smithsonian Metro station in tears to greet her husband with a hug and kiss.

Commuters were evacuated through the dark track tunnels into the Smithsonian station. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services said they assisted 300 people there.

No injuries have been reported, though there have been unconfirmed reports of passengers experiencing anxiety and stress related to the incident.

"Whenever you have incidents like this ... that causes a lot of anxiety for folks," Stessel says. "The reassuring thing we tell folks is that we practice these types of evacuations all time. We know the procedures."

Still, passengers complained that they didn't hear any announcements about what was happening, leaving many in the dark until rescue crews arrived.

Stessel says Metro would ensure the tracks are clear of passengers, and then "the train involved will be able to be moved into a rail yard for inspection," Stessel says.

Full service on the Blue and Orange lines was restored Tuesday afternoon, but Metro officials say to expect residual delays in both directions.


Check out this evacuation footage from Twitter user SomethngFab

WTOP's Adam Tuss contributed to this report.Follow Adam Tuss and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)