Friday, December 11, 2009
From reader CS:
Recently, I was coming home from the city on my usual Orange Line trip to Vienna. We were still underground, between stations, when the train came to a halt. Nothing unusual there, especially in the new era of manual control. We sat for a spell, then the operator released the brakes with their familiar "whoosh," and ...
...we started moving backwards!
Not the common coast-backwards-a-little-bit-on-a-hill-before-the-propulsion-kicks-in kind of backwards, but powered backward travel.
The operator quickly stopped the train (at least the brakes worked!) and tried again several times, all with the same result. Clearly unnerved, she came on the PA system and said something about "going backward!"
I suspect this was unintentional, and that she had keyed the mike while talking to central control about the problem.
As it happened, there was a Metro technician on board at the same time, and she called out to him over the PA, with some urgency, to quickly come to the operator's cab.
In fairly short order, the technician showed up, running down the aisle, and entered the cab. (I watched all this from my vantage point at the front of the first car.)
The technician and the operator engaged in some back-and-forth (couldn't make out what was said), with him evidently instructing her on some technique for dealing with the problem.
When he finished, the operator gave a loud and grateful, "Thanks!" (easily heard in the passenger compartment), and she was then able to get the train moving in the right direction again. We traveled without incident to Vienna.
But as was the operator, I was a bit unnerved, too:
-- Metro trains can go backwards without the train operator wanting them to?!
-- And if so, train operators themselves don't know the secret solution, without having to depend on a "fairy train-father" who just happened to be aboard at the time?
It's another example of why Metro isn't exactly inspiring confidence these days.
Also by CS:
Rules don't apply
Vienna's creepy tower
Mikulski tears Metro a new WMATAhole (Mikulski)
Management shake up in the works? (WaPo)
Federal oversight questioned (Examiner)
China has this, we have WMATA (BBC)
Posted by Unsuck DC Metro at 7:50 AM