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Continuous Single Tracking Along Red Line Promises Disaster For Riders, Metro Officials Encourage Ditching System

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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D.C. Metro officials are issuing their strongest warning yet regarding SafeTrack repairs, telling red line riders to brace for continuous single tracking, which could add up to an hour to commutes.

SafeTrack, Metro’s 10-month maitinence overhaul of the beleaguered transit system, will hit the red line for the first time Monday, impacting 94,000 weekly trips. Trains will single-track continuously between the Takoma and Silver Spring stations for Surge 6 repairs, ending August 7. Officials will reduce train service by up to 75 percent on portions of the red line, severely impacting service along the entire red line, reports NBC Washington.

D.C. Metro officials and representatives of Montgomery County, Maryland warned riders the repair work will likely add anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to their usual commute. Officials are telling “all red line riders” to consider ditching the red line altogether for alternate travel options.

“Red line riders need to do what others have done, which is find alternatives,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said at a press conference Wednesday. “Travel outside the rush hour, telecommute, it is a great time for vacation.”

While single tracking is contained to the tunnel between the Takoma and Silver Spring stations, train schedules will be drastically reduced on nearly all parts of the red line. Train service running between the Silver Spring and NoMa stations will be reduced by 75 percent. The large swath of track running between the Grosvenor and NoMa stations will be reduced by 25 percent. Train service will be slashed by 50 percent between the Glenmont and Silver Spring stations. (RELATED: DC Metro Closes Major Portions Of Track After Derailment, Tells Riders To ‘Plan’)

“You should assume it’s going to take 45 minutes to an hour longer each way,” Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner said at the press conference. “This is not pretty but it is oh so necessary. It is a major inconvenience, and you need to look at all your alternatives.”

Trains will run every 12 minutes between the Glenmont and Grosvenor stations and every six minutes between the Shady Grove and NoMa stations. (RELATED: DC Metro Just Almost Electrocuted A Train Full Of Terrified Passengers After ‘Near Miss’ Collision)

The headache for red line riders will extend through Surge 6 until August 18. Surge 7 repairs will then begin on the red line for 10 days on August 9. Trains will single track between the Shady Grove & Rockville stations, disrupting roughly 32,000 weekly trips. Trains will run once every 18 minutes.

The D.C. Metro is coming off a disastrous week that included a train derailment and new revelations regarding a “near miss” tunnel collision July 5 that stemmed from a dispute over a lunch break.

A Metro train derailed entering a track switch outside the East Falls Church station Friday morning, causing one minor injury but dealing a massive blow to commuters trying to get to the District from Virginia.

Authorities closed the East Falls Chruch station and unloaded 75 passengers to the platform. Service will remain completely cut off on the orange line between the West Falls Church and Ballston stations and the silver line between the McLean and Ballston stations through Saturday for repairs.

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