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Repairs Will Slow Red Line Travel

This is a special alert for Metro's Red Line riders about delays likely to occur on weekends during the next month.

The transit authority does some form of track maintenance every weekend, which slows down travel because trains must take turns sharing a single track around the work.

This is bigger: Metro will be replacing a switch outside the Medical Center Station in Bethesda. The work required is extensive and the impact significant. So Metro decided to do it during the winter weekends, when ridership is lower, but it will take four weekends to finish.

This is the work schedule:
-- 9 p.m. Friday to midnight Sunday.
-- 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, to midnight Sunday, Jan. 27. (Skipping over the MLK Day weekend.)
-- 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, to midnight Sunday, Feb. 3.
-- 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, to midnight Sunday, Feb. 10.

During those time periods, trains will share one track between the Friendship Heights and Grosvenor stations.

During the day, trains will run every nine minutes between the Friendship Heights and Glenmont stations, and every 18 minutes between Friendship Heights and Shady Grove stations. Every other Red Line train traveling in the direction of Shady Grove will terminate at Friendship Heights and head back toward Glenmont.

After 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during those four weekends, all Red Line trains will operate every 18 minutes from the ends of the line.

Metro notes that on all four weekends, there are sports events or concerts at Verizon Center, a place people like to reach by taking Metro to Gallery Place on the Red, Yellow and Green lines. If you're one of those people and you would take the Red Line, build in extra time.

This special Red Line schedule won't show up if you're using Metro's Trip Planner to make your time and fare calculations. Two checks would be more useful: If you're working with a Web-enabled handheld device, go to and select "Next Train Information." If you're on a desktop or laptop, go to and click on "find a stop/station, then click on your departure station and click "next train arrival."

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2008; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Dr. G, the way you state the train running times from Shady Grove seems misleading. You mean that trains will run every 18 minutes for trains originating from or terminating at Shady Grove (Running between Shady Grove and Glenmont) The way you have it stated is as if the trains originating from Shady Grove will be terminating (offloading) at Friendship Heights metro. This isn't happening right? The trains from Shady Grove are continuing into the city right?

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Also, will single tracking around grosvenor and medical center be finished when this work is done? I feel like there has been weekend single tracking in that area for months now (Since the summer if not longer). Usually it's nothing like it will be for the next 4 weekends, but how long does it really take to fix/repair/perform maintence on one stretch of track?

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Why does non-rush-hour single tracking cause any delays? It's obvious that they couldn't do it safely with trains 2 minutes apart, but 18???

Posted by: confused | January 9, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Why 18 minutes?

According to Metro, it takes 8 minutes for a train to go from Friendship Heights to Grosvenor. It would then take another 8 minutes for a different train to go from Grosvenor back to Friendship Heights, for a minimum total of 16 minutes between trains if they take turns going in opposite directions on the same track.

With fewer trains in each direction, and therefore more people on each train, it likely will take longer for passengers to board and exit at each stop, and therefore scheduling trains the minimum 16 minutes apart would be wishful thinking. Adding a minute to the schedule in each direction would mean the trains would have to be scheduled at least 18 minutes apart.

Posted by: Doug | January 9, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey, 18 minutes! Now Red Line riders know what it's like to ride any other line on the weekends!

Posted by: Dan | January 10, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, those stations are deceptively close together on the system map.

Posted by: confused | January 10, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"If you're on a desktop or laptop, go to and click on 'find a stop/station,' then click on your departure station and click 'next train arrival.'"

I wonder how many people can get from their desktop to their departure platform in 9 minutes?

Posted by: DrBubbles | January 10, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

why would anyone trust metroclosesdoors to have accurate train times?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

They also have a mobile website with train arrival times for BlackBerry -- which I've found to be very useful and usually accurate within a minute or so. It's nice on weekends if you can leave a couple minutes earlier and avoid standing on the platform for 15 minutes.

Posted by: CBGB | January 11, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Male Enhancement | March 5, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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