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3 Hurt as Subway Derails in Downtown D.C.

Updated 6 p.m. ET

As commuters and the Metro system struggled to get back to their normal schedules after two major winter storms, a derailment late Friday morning snarled the transit system and caused a few minor injuries.

Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said the front wheels of the train's first car slipped off the rail just after 10 a.m. Friday, but the car did not hit anything.

The accident-plagued rail system was offering limited service at some aboveground suburban stations for the first time in days when the incident happened near the Farragut North station in downtown D.C., officials said.

D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said there were 345 passengers on board and three people had minor injuries with bumps and bruises.

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Passengers said the train had been moving slowly before it suddenly stopped.

Pat Butcher, 52, of Springdale, Md., said she was on her way to work for the first time this week after the back-to-back snowstorms when the train derailed in a tunnel. "There was a big jolt forward ... and it stopped."

Butcher, who was in the last car of the train, said passengers remained calm.

Authorities blocked traffic and closed the station for a few hours as they evacuated the train. The station reopened by early afternoon.

The federal government had a two-hour delay Friday after being closed all week because of two snowstorms that hit the region. Metro ran limited underground service for much of the week before reopening all stations by Friday afternoon. Many commuters still had to navigate snow-covered side streets to reach rail stations.

The derailment comes after a collision last summer killed nine people when one train slammed into another that was stopped on the tracks, as well as a series of accidents that have killed Metro workers, including one that killed two employees last month.

The National Transportation Safety Board has a three-day public hearing starting Feb. 23 on its investigation into the cause of the June crash. NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said the agency has begun an investigation into Friday's derailment. Metro also is investigating.

D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement that the derailment is the "latest indicator that years of delayed and insufficient maintenance and replacement of obsolete equipment are at the root" of Metro's accidents, delays and operational problems.

Norton said the system needs more money and she said she will ask the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a hearing on Metro's "maintenance backlog."

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