Friday, July 31, 2009

Smoke Brake

There were conflicting reports yesterday about why McPherson Sq. station was evacuated due to smoke: @dcfireems said it was a brake problem on a train, while the Post reported it was a "collector shoe."
We read the brakes notification first, which got us thinking about the handful of times we'd stepped off the train into an acrid fog of brake smoke.
We looked into it, and found some surprising information.
Metro seems to be on its way to finding a solution to the circuit problems, if indeed that was the cause of the June 22 crash, but if July is any indication, brakes will be the next to fail.
Below is the tally on brake problems for July. Metro has yet to post July 23-30, but this list tells the tale, we think.
Total brake incidents: 18, nearly one per day.
Oddly, there were no reported brake incidents in June and only one in May, which turned out to be nothing. There were none in April and none in March. So either the brakes are suddenly going bad, or Metro has gotten more specific with how it describes disruptions.
July 2
5:02 p.m. An Orange Line train at Cheverly in the direction of Vienna was taken out of service because of a brake problem which required passengers to exit the train. Another train was placed in service at Ballston to minimize delays.
6:02 p.m. An Orange Line train at Ballston in the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Passengers were required to exit the train.
7:18 p.m. An Orange Line at West Falls Church in the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Passengers were required to exit the train.
July 3
10:16 a.m. An Orange Line train at Ballston In the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
10:40 a.m. A Red Line Train at Woodley Park In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train
July 4
9:22 a.m. An Orange Line train at Eastern Market In the direction of Vienna was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
10:57 a.m. An Orange Line train at Landover In the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
1:40 p.m. An Orange Line train at East Falls Church In the direction of Vienna was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
3:32 p.m. A Green Line train at Naylor Road In the direction of Branch Avenue was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
5:36 p.m. An Orange Line train at Eastern Market In the direction of Vienna was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
9:13 p.m. A Red Line Train at Silver Spring In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
July 5
1:53 p.m. An Orange Line train at Stadium Armory In the direction of Vienna was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train. A gap train was placed in service to minimize the delay.
July 7
1:55 p.m. A Red Line Train at Union Station In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
July 8
8:22 a.m. A Red Line Train at Dupont Circle In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
July 9
NO REPORT
July 22 (last day available on WMATA's disruption reports)
2:50 p.m. An Orange Line train at East Falls Church In the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
3:22 p.m. A Red Line Train at Wheaton In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
5:39 p.m. A Red Line Train at Fort Totten In the direction of Shady Grove was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.
6:49 p.m. An Orange Line train at Eastern Market In the direction of New Carrollton was taken out of service due to a brake problem. Customers were required to exit the train.

Other items:
Catoe fears for other transit systems (Washington Times)
Bus driver driving WITHOUT LICENSE (DC Examiner)
MUST SEE! And we thought it was WMATA's fault (h/t joshlaughner)
10 rescued from stalled elevator (NBC4)

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2 comments:

JP Kab said...

I think you're forgetting a key factor in the brake issue: one of the reasons the metro trains have used computerized braking was to prevent excessive wear on the brakes. Since the June accident, the drivers have been manually braking again. While correlation doesn't always equal causation, I would be very shocked if the manual braking didn't have something to do with the problems. Wikipedia has an interesting article talking about the computerized brake system in its analysis of some of the past metro accidents.

Anonymous said...

What is that acrid smell that is apparenly associated with the brakes? I believe that brake pads contain asbestos. Are we breathing asbestos fibers or other unhealthy materials?

Also, I am told that electrical arcing and other odor-creating Metro activities may release particulate matter, most notable PM2.5, You know, the really small stuff that wedges in the lungs and causes cancer.

I would like to see some air quality sampling conducted along metro platforms, particulary as odor-emitting trains arrive and depart.

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