Metro News Release

For immediate release: July 6, 2010

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Excessive heat affects Metrorail service
Kink causes speed restrictions; hot conditions to be expected

The excessive heat, forecast to reach record-setting temperatures in the region the remainder of this week, is impacting Metrorail service. A kink in the rail on the Red Line has resulted in speed restrictions through one stretch of track between the New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U and Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood Metrorail stations.

Excessive heat sometimes forces Metro to take a precautionary safety measure to reduce speeds on the above-ground portions of the rail system. High temperatures can sometimes cause “heat kinks” on the rails. Heat kinks form when overheated tracks expand and cannot be constrained by the cross ties and ballast support the track. Metro track inspectors are closely monitoring rail conditions throughout the heat wave. If heat kinks are discovered, Metro will need to slow train speeds through the area to ensure safety.

Officials will continue to monitor conditions should other areas of track become impacted by the heat.

The record-breaking heat also may make rail stations and trains uncomfortable for passengers. Rail cars may feel overly warm due to more passengers on trains and the regular opening of doors at each station stop. When the doors open to let passengers in and out of the rail cars, cool air goes out the door and warm air enters the car. However, if riders find themselves on a rail car with no air conditioning, they should note the rail car number found on the exterior of the cars or on the bulkhead doors at either end of the car, and report the condition to Metro’s customer complaint phone line at 202-637-1328.

Underground rail stations also may seem warmer than usual during the heat wave. Warm air flows in through the open-air, street-level station entrances. In addition, trains entering underground stations from above ground stations pull in hot air from the outside as well. There is a misperception that Metrorail stations are air conditioned. Underground stations have chilled water air handling units, or chillers, not air conditioners, to cool the air. The Metrorail cooling system was developed in the 1970s to reflect energy conservation standards of the time. Temperatures in stations were designed to be up to 20 degrees cooler than outside temperatures.

News release issued at 4:44 pm, July 6, 2010.


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