Washington, D.C. Metro leverages summer drop in ridership to work on the railroad

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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WMATA will leverage the drop in ridership to move forward on needed maintenance and projects.

While the coronavirus is beyond horrible, and has impacted rail passenger ridership on Amtrak, commuter rail, and city transit lines, several roads have said they will use the reduced frequency of trains to secure more track time to make needed railroad repairs and to expedite projects. Washington, D.C.’s Metro is among the latest to announce plans for this. Here is a news release from the agency issued in late April:

“Making the most of historically low ridership and traffic-free highways, Metro today announced plans to combine the schedules of its two biggest capital priorities in Virginia: rebuilding platforms and connecting the Silver Line to Metro’s existing network.

“Under the expanded plan, Metro will combine this summer’s work demolishing and reconstructing platforms at four Orange Line stations with a separate project on the Silver Line to connect Metrorail to the new “phase II” stations, which are being constructed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). 

“The resulting summer shutdown will close a total of nine stations from Memorial Day weekend through the fall. 

” ‘This is about two things: working smarter and working safer’ said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. ‘Closing the stations to get the work done while ridership is historically low allows us to limit the exposure of our frontline staff and contractors, mitigate delays to our capital program, and minimize inconvenience to the public.’ “

“Under the new plan:

  • All stations west of Ballston on the Orange and Silver lines will be closed beginning Saturday, May 23:
    • Orange Line: East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring, Vienna
    • Silver Line: McLean, Tysons, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East
  • All trains will begin/end service at Ballston. Orange Line service will run from Ballston to New Carrollton.
  • There will be no Silver Line service.
  • Free express and local shuttle bus service will be available to provide alternative travel options for essential workers.

“As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, ridership at stations west of Ballston totals about 1,200 customers per weekday – less than 5% of normal ridership. 

“Metro’s platform contractor, Kiewit, has implemented new protocols and procedures to ensure that construction crews are as safe as possible in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Because the effect of these safety measures on the project schedule is not yet known, Metro will announce an expected reopening date for the affected stations after construction gets underway.”

A WMATA press release.

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Categories: Commuter/Regional, ON Track Maintenance, Passenger, Railroad News, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Track Maintenance
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