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Metro: Trains operating normally after two shutdowns caused by system failures

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Metro will have extra employees on duty for this morning's commute after a software program for tracking trains crashed twice over the weekend. 

The transit agency's computer system crashed on Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning, forcing all trains to be halted at the nearest station. 

The cause of the failure is under investigation.

Saturday's shutdown lasted about 40 minutes. A second stoppage occurred around 12:30 a.m. Sunday and lasted until around 1 a.m. Sunday afternoon.

Metro issued a statement saying, "The computer problem affected an information management system that allows controllers in Metro's Rail Operations Control Center to see where trains are on a dynamic map and to remotely control switches." (See full statement below.)

Forty trains were in service at the time of the first computer shut down. There were no reports of injuries or customer issues, according to a statement from WMATA.

It was already a tough weekend for Metro customers.

Before the computer glitch halted service on all five lines, four stations were already closed for maintenance work. Thousands of riders packed  onto shuttle buses to bridge the gaps. Wide spread single tracking also caused delays.

Around 2 p.m. Saturday, Metro officials say, computer issues began affecting the control center's ability to see the trains on a moving map. 

The agency says its signal system continued to run.

Train operators were alerted via radio to head to the next station and hold in place with the doors open. No trains were stranded between stations; they were all able to reach platforms.

The Red line was first up at 2:45, the rest of the lines at 2:50.

Customers were advised to look for alternatives to rail.

While service has been restored, residual delays related to the computer problems and track work continued through the day.

Metro technicians are still trying to figure out why the two shutdowns happened.

WMATA issued the following statement Sunday afternoon:

Investigation continues into Saturday computer issue affecting Metrorail service

Technicians continue working to identify the cause of a computer problem yesterday that prompted Metro to hold trains in stations until the system was restored.

The computer problem affected an information management system that allows controllers in Metro's Rail Operations Control Center to see where trains are on a dynamic map and to remotely control switches. The first occurence affected service between approximately 2:10 p.m. and 2:50 p.m. Saturday. During this time, 44 Metrorail trains were instructed by controllers to hold their position at the next station, in an abundance of caution. A second occurrence between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. early Sunday morning resulted in a brief hold, after which trains were permitted to move with radio permission from controllers.

All safety systems that keep trains properly spaced remained fully operational during both occurrences. Train movement at all times was governed by wayside signals (essentially traffic lights alongside tracks), as well as speed commands transmitted to each train's control cab. Radio communication between the control center and trains was maintained at all times.

No new issues have been reported on Sunday.

As the investigation continues, Metro's Rail and IT departments are taking precautionary steps to minimize the chance for additional problems. Metro will post additional supervisory staff at key locations during the Monday morning commute to respond quickly in the event of any technical issues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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