Train Talk June 24, 2010 10:50 AM

Train Talk:Last Night’s Delays
June 24, 2010 10:50 AM

The following is in this edition of Train Talk:
1) What Happened
2) Follow Up

1) What Happened

First, we would like to apologize to the passengers on both the Fredericksburg and Manassas Lines for any frustration the delays may have caused.

The first significant delay happened to Fredericksburg Line train 309 (Departs Union Station at 5:15pm). This train set starts the afternoon as the mid-day train 301 (Departs Union Station at 12:55pm). Normally, there is more than enough time for this train return to Union Station so it can operate as Fredericksburg Train 309. However, yesterday, it encountered switch problems and rail congestion just south of Franconia/Springfield. As a result of the delay returning to Union Station train 309 was half an hour late departing, and Manassas Line train 333 (Departs Union Station at 5:30p) was allowed to depart first.

As train 333 pulled into Crystal City, the engineer noticed smoke coming off of the axles. After an initial assessment, the crew determined it was not an emergency and attempted to proceed slowly into Alexandria. Since there are two platforms at Alexandria, even if a disabled train is blocking one platform, trains could operate on the other one and load normally. Shortly after departing Crystal City, train 333 stopped again with more smoke coming off of the axles. At this point, the crew decided that the safest course of action was to stop the train and transfer passengers to another train.

Train 309 was stuck directly behind train 333 and had to back up so it could switch to the far track to board passengers. Fredericksburg train 311 (Departs Union Station at 6:00p) and Amtrak 171 were both stopped south of L’Enfant so that train 309 could maneuver around train 333. Once train 309 started moving south again, a significant bottleneck of southbound traffic had developed.

Manassas Line train 335 was in line behind train 311 and Amtrak 171. It picked up passengers at Crystal City. It then stopped pick up passengers from disabled train 333. Due to the fact that passengers had to walk through the rocky ballast to transfer from one train to another, it took a little longer for passengers to be transferred and the train encountered an additional delay of approximately 35 minutes.

In the meantime Fredericksburg Train #313 (Departs Union Station at 6:40p) had picked up riders at Crystal City and was holding directly behind the rescue mission, with Manassas Train #337 (Departs Union Station at 6:50p) behind it, just north of Crystal City. At about 7:40p, the transfer of passengers was complete and trains started moving again.

2) Follow Up

We know being on a delayed train or waiting on a platform in the summer could be better spent with family and friends. Please be assured that the mechanical delay that caused this delay is being investigated. We would also like to remind you that the first of our new locomotives arrives July 1. As we start to replace our aging locomotive fleet over the next year, mechanical delays will be significantly reduced.

If you did not receive a Free Ride Certificate (FRC) for last night’s delays, please visit our website at http://www.vre.org/programs/freeride.htm for details on how to request an FRC for your inconvenience.


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