As everyone in the DC area knows by now, a redline train derailed Friday morning between Farragut North and Dupont. I was on that train. In the lead car.
Friday was the first day back to work after 4 glorious, snowy days. Days were filled with skiing, snowball fights, reading, and chilaxing. Things were not really ‘back to normal’ on Friday morning, but I set out (yes, after a two hour delay) to the bus stop and waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. According to the trusted ‘Next Bus‘, a bus should have arrived, oh 25 minutes ago. About 30 minutes later, I decided to ditch the bus and just use the metro.
Almost right away I was able to get on an overcrowded greenline train down to Chinatown. Chinatown, however, was a mess. After waiting about 8 minutes, the first train was far too full to board. When I didn’t get on that train, I headed to the front, thinking I’d have a better chance to get on the next train in the lead car. After only 5 additional minutes, the next train rolled up, and easily fit everyone waiting. My car had plenty of space, with only a few people standing.
The train cruised along as normal through Farragut North. After we pulled from the station, the train stopped for about 30 seconds before moving forward. About 10 seconds after that, the car begins to bonce up and down. I grab hold, bracing myself for something horrible. Thankfully, after a few short seconds of shaking, the train stops. Everyone looks around at each other, wide eyed and shook up by what may have just happened. “Customers, we have derailed” is announced by the train operator over the intercom. Three metro workers that happened to be on the train begin talking on their radios and trying to look out the windows. As we sit and wait, most of us begin to calm down, anxiously waiting to hear what just happened.
Over the next hour, we are told roughly every 5 minutes that help is on the way, so we should remain calm. Although patience was beginning to wither, everyone around me seemed to be keeping it under control. Eventually we are asked to move to the third train back, where they detached from the derailed cars and drove us back to Farragut North. We were greeted at the station by roughly 50 firemen and police officers yelling out instructions. They were looking for injured, but there were none to be found. Finally they let us go, and a mass of 350 + tired, grumpy, full bladdered, and slightly shooken riders run up the escalators to freedom.
The derailment, though exciting, really wasn’t a big deal. But I’m still left with this uneasy feeling about the whole thing. The train derailed due to an automatic safety system set off by the train moving to the wrong tracks. Why was our train moving to the wrong tracks? Would we have had a head on collision if the system had failed? I’m also extremely thankful for the seemingly random stop we made just before we derailed. If we had been going at full speed, would the accident have been much worse?
I’m thankful no one was seriously injured, thankful that Metro seemed to handle the situation fairly well, but anxious for the report.