Metro was operating a particularly long train Sunday morning on the Blue Line. It was supposed to have six cars. Train 409 had 12.
A preliminary investigation suggests that the mix-up occurred as the train was preparing to leave the Largo rail yard at 7:27 a.m. to begin its run to Franconia-Springfield. Metro officials think the regular six-car train might have rolled backward on an incline and hooked up with a six-car train behind it, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.
No one noticed anything unusual as the 12-car train traveled to seven stations. At Eastern Market, a station manager thought he was looking at an eight-car train that had not stopped properly at the platform, a recurrent problem.
The station manager radioed Metro's control center, which alerted the train operator. By then, she had pulled into the Capitol South station.
The controller asked the operator what kind of train she had.
A six-car train, the operator said.
The controller told her to double-check.
The operator looked out her cab window and remarked, "It looks like I have more lights than I should,'" according to Taubenkibel. She got out for a closer look. Sure enough, there were 12 cars.
No injuries were reported, although it is unsafe for train doors to open in tunnels or other areas away from station platforms. A station platform is only 600 feet long, the exact length of an eight-car train.
The operator is on administrative leave while Metro investigates.