D.C. Metro Derailment Caused By ‘Heat Kink’

Investigators with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) have released a statement about a terrifying incident involving thee metro cars, which derailed during rush hour on Friday.

The Huffington Post reports that the cause of derailment was likely a “heat kink,” which caused the track to buckle. With Saturday being the tenth day in a row where temperatures reached over 95 degrees in the D.C. area, the idea of heat bending the tracks is not far-fetched.

Patch.com reports that the Metro train derailed on Friday after departing Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station at around 4:45 p.m. The last three cars derailed, leaving 55 passengers in harm’s way. It took rescuers about an hour in grueling heat to bring all passengers to safety.

WMATA spokesperson Caroline Lukas has stated that there is now a speed restriction for trains that travel on tracks exposed to the sun. They are not allowed to go more than 35 miles per hour under the restriction which will last “at least for the duration of the weekend,” reports The Huffington Post.

WMATA’s website explains the heat kink by saying:

“Heat kinks are short sections of misaligned track caused by the expansion of metal rails in extremely high temperatures and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. When the expanding rail cannot be constrained by cross-ties and ballast, the rail may expand outward from the normal track alignment.”

The Huffington Post notes that Washington D.C.’s Metro tracks are not the only transportation affected by the extreme temperatures, as Virginia and Maryland have seen buckled pavement as a result of the latest heat wave. Thankfully, temperatures dropped on Sunday, providing relief to much of the Midwest and Eastern states.