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'Booms' And Smoke On Red Line Train Prompt Evacuation At Union Station

Video from the Red/Purple line subway platform at Union Station showed people walking out of the tunnel and onto the platform following a train malfunction. Witnesses reported hearing loud "booms" and said firefighters told them a fire broke out. (Courtesy Michelle Moro)
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The Red/Purple Line subway platform at Union Station was evacuated Tuesday morning after a train malfunctioned inside a tunnel. Witnesses reported hearing loud "booms" and video from the station showed people walking out of the tunnel and onto the crowded platform.

The incident happened at 8:20 a.m. aboard a Red Line train as it approached Union Station, according to Rick Jager, spokesman with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"The train operator heard noise under the train and saw smoke so he stopped the train," Jager said. "There was no fire. There was some smoke but it dissipated fairly quickly."

One witness waiting at the platform told LAist that firefighters on scene were yelling that there was a fire and everyone needed to get out quickly. Los Angeles Fire Department officials issued an alert, saying the Red/Purple Line platform would be evacuated, later adding that there was "no evidence of smoke or fire aboard the train and no injuries."

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Andy Cheatwood, a KPCC employee who commutes via Metro, was on the train when it "died" in the tunnel approaching Union Station.

"The train stopped to wait for another train to clear the station, then when they tried to start up again you could hear and feel electrical booms, as if there was a short," Cheatwood said. "After a few minutes the main lighting went off and the conductor came through telling us not to try and get off because of smoke. He said he'd worked here 20 years and never had this happen."

Shortly after that, passengers were led out of the train and took the emergency walkway to the station platform.

Passengers aboard a Metro Red Line train had to finish this leg of their commute on foot, walking through the subway tunnel to the platform at Union Station after their train malfunctioned. (Andy Cheatwood/LAist)

In a tweet, Metro characterized the incident as a "train with mechanical issue at Union Station" that would be causing up to 20-minute delays for riders on the Red and Purple lines. Jager said the platform was reopened shortly after 9 a.m. and Metro trains were running on the station's second track to keep riders moving.

LAFD officials said the incident did not affect other Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak service at Union Station, though the delays to the Red/Purple lines did cause overcrowding.

The disabled train would be towed to a Metro train yard and examined to determine what caused the malfunction, Jager added.

A few minutes after 10 a.m., Metro reported the Red and Purple lines had resumed normal service.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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10:16 a.m.: This article was updated with information from L.A. Metro that the Red and Purple lines have resumed normal service.

10:06 a.m.: This article was updated with more information from L.A. Metro and video from a witness on the train.

This article was originally published at 9:30 a.m.

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