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Blue, Expo Line delays reflect ongoing problems at rail junction

Metro Blue Line cars zip past a station near Washington Boulevard and Flower Street, where the Blue Line converges with the Expo Line. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

For more than two years, intermittent problems have cropped up where the Metro Blue Line and Expo Line tracks meet at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Some of the issues even held up the Expo Line's grand opening, but L.A. County transportation officials worked furiously to fix the problems and unveiled the new light-rail line in April.

Yet problems persisted, and the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates certain rail operations in the state, has been working with county officials on a permanent fix.

On Tuesday, incidents at the junction and on the Blue and Expo lines showed why fixes are needed -- even if it's unclear whether Tuesday's snags were related to earlier problems -- as commuters faced major delays during rush hour.

"Due to a problem with the switches at the junction of the Blue Line and Expo Line at Washington and Flower in downtown L.A. -- in addition to two broken-down trains -- there are serious delays on both lines," according to a 6:18 p.m. Tuesday night post on the Source, the blog of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The blog further said the Blue and Expo lines were facing delays of up to 75 minutes during rush hour for downtown passengers. Normal service was restored after 7 p.m. but "residual delays" remained, the blog said.

"Thank you for patience and patronage. We know this was a tough commute tonight," the blog read.

Marc Littman, a spokesman for Metro, said in an email that operations executives were "investigating what happened and taking steps to ensure we don't have a repeat."

He added that a report and recommendations on "a permanent fix to the various issues we and our passengers have experienced should be presented to the Metro Board this winter."


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Photo: Metro Blue Line cars zip past a station near Washington Boulevard and Flower Street, where the Blue Line converges with the Expo Line. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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