US & Canada

Washington subway to reopen after daylong shutdown

A police officer walks through the entrance to the closed Metro Center Metro station in Washington Image copyright EPA
Image caption Washington Metro normally serves more than 700,000 passengers each day

Washington's Metro, the second busiest subway system in the US, will reopen on Thursday after a unprecedented all-day shutdown over safety concerns.

A series of electrical fires led to the system-wide shutdown as workers spent Wednesday inspecting power cables.

Traffic increased significantly on the city's roads, but police reported only minor accidents.

The federal government encouraged employees to work from home, but local schools remained open.

A fire caused major delays earlier this week. And last year, a similar incident caused a train to fill with smoke in a tunnel, killing one passenger.

City officials feared the closure would cause major disruption in the US capital, but the expected commuting nightmare failed to materialise.

Washington's bike-sharing programme offered free 24-hour memberships and buses and streetcars saw increased ridership.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The ageing system has been plagued by fires including one last year that killed a passenger

The 40-year-old underground rail system has been halted before for hurricanes and major snow storms, but never over safety concerns.

Local and federal transport officials said the Metro system, which carries more than 700,000 passengers each day, needs more funding to overcome these safety issues.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the inspection indentified 26 defective areas and repairs were under way.

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