Metro’s Silver Line extension is not open yet, but derailment risk may already be present

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Washington, D.C. Metro has named Edward Donaldson the director of Metro’s rail operations control center.

Washington Metro’s Silver Line extension is already being red-flagged for safety. The second phase of the track is currently under construction and is expected to open in 2021, but Metro has sent out a letter that will most likely cause some additional work.

The agency is concerned about an issue that could result in derailments, and sent a letter to the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA). MWAA is overseeing the construction of the Silver Line.

The concern centers around the Automatic Train Control system.

“More specifically, WMATA has identified deficiencies in the spacing of cross-bonds that could result in broken rails not being detected, and which could cause a loss of train detection or derailment,” the letter said.

Prime contractor Capital Rail Constructors quickly responded.

“We are reviewing WMATA’s letter with the engineer of record and the ATC supplier. We have installed the system, and are testing the system, in accordance with the design that was engineered by the engineer of record, Parsons Transportation Group, and reviewed and approved by both MWAA and WMATA. To date, testing has not revealed a safety issue related to this matter. We will continue to work through this with the engineer of record, the ATC supplier, MWAA, and WMATA to determine if any changes are necessary. We are committed to working with all parties to deliver a safe and reliable system for the region’s riders.”

The second phase of the Silver Line will connect Reston to Ashburn and will have a stop at Dulles Airport. Officials were hoping the line would be open by this summer, but delays have pushed it back to next year.

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