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Entire DC Metrorail system closing for emergency inspections

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Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 17:29:10-04

WASHINGTON — The entire DC Metrorail system in the nation’s capital will be shut down until Thursday morning for safety inspections of electrical cables, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld said Tuesday.

The closure, starting at midnight Wednesday, comes after an electrical fire in a Metro tunnel on Monday caused the shutdown of three subway lines, Wiedefeld said.

Preliminary findings of the cause of the fire “show commonalities” with another cable fire last year, he said.

“While the risk to the public is very low,” Wiedefeld said, “I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here and this is why we must take this action immediately.”

The inspections of about 600 “jumper cables” will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system.

At the conclusion of the inspections, there may be a need for additional rail service outages, Wiedefeld said.

He said city bus service will operate normally.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“It’s sad that it’s come to this, but hundreds of thousands of people depend on the safety of the Metro system. We need to take it seriously. I’m glad that Metro’s new leadership is treating system safety with an appropriate sense of urgency.”