DC Metro Just Made Life Three Times As Miserable For Commuters

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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D.C. Metro’s revised plan to repair the system pushes off SafeTrack’s completion for at least a month and triples the time trains will be single tracking in Virginia.

Officials with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) unveiled their rewritten SafeTrack repair plan Wednesday, which expands maintenance plans and gives workers more time in tunnels. The changes came after a series of critical reports from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that lambasted Metro officials over poor inspections and a relaxed safety culture, reports The Washington Post.

The new plan pushes off a major Red Line shut down for Surge 10 repairs 19 days to Oct 29. There will be no service between the Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet stations for the entire surge, which ends Nov. 22., and officials will close the Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations. All Red Line trains will operate with reduced service due to the work. Officials are encouraging commuters to use the Green Line or seek alternate travel options.

Continuous single tracking on the Orange and Silver Lines for Surge 11 repairs originally planned for November is set to begin Nov. 28 and will extend through Dec. 21. Officials are warning riders to expect “heavy crowding” during rush hour on platforms; trains will only run once every 16 minutes.

Metro officials originally planned to complete 13 of the 15 “Safety Surges” for SafeTrack before the end of the year, but the undertaking is proving more difficult than originally thought. Federal inspectors are concerned over the quality of current D.C. Metro repairs. In roughly 30 reports from federal inspectors, officials documented 130 track defects found in areas already “fixed” by Metro’s SafeTrack program, such as crumbling rail ties. Inspectors found other track infrastructure in “very poor” condition during their reviews of the completed work.

“We’ve learned something every time we’ve done one of these,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in September, according to The Washington Post. “I wish every time we did something, it was 100 percent.”

Deteriorating rail ties played a role on the July 29 derailment of a Silver Line train outside the East Falls Church station in Virginia. Following the incident, Metro officials added additional repairs to address similar track conditions throughout the system.

Orange Line trains traveling between the Vienna and West Falls Church stations are single-tracking for 42 day for Surge 9 SafeTrack repairs that began Thursday. D.C. Metro officials are warning riders at the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations to anticipate large disruptions to regular service throughout the maintenance work.

Officials will also conduct added repairs every weekend through the surge, which ends Oct. 26.

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