Yesterday's deadly Metro incident in which passengers were overcome with smoke on a Yellow line train outside the L'Enfant Plaza Station, was attributable to an "electrical arcing event" according to the National Transportation Safety Board. This prompt evaluation stands in stark contrast to the many months and hypotheses which went by in determining the cause of the June 2009 Fort Trotten train crash.
This short circuit of the third electrified rail evidently did not cause an actual fire but generated en enormous amount of smoke and sadly raises a number of questions about why this happened, what mechanism exists to detect or prevent such an event, why the train operator proceeded into the smoke-filled tunnel and why it took so long for Metro and emergency personnel to rescue the victims?
Certainly a good deal of more inquiry will reveal answers to these questions but early indications of poor communications and slow response are most disconcerting. The incident killed one passenger and injured eighty more.