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Metro Testing Trains for Inauguration

This is the third day of the week's four-day test of Metro's ability to run the maximum number of eight-car trains on Inauguration Day, and it's causing some confusion among riders.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I asume the idea was to make sure that train operators are up to the task of stopping the trains at the end of their 600-foot platforms.

Tuesday night, at McPherson Square, many other Metro riders and I experienced what Metro really meant. In the 20 minutes or so I spent waiting for an Orange Line train to Courthouse, seven Blue and Orange line six-car trains arrived at the station and all of them did not stop until the lead car was at the end of the outbound platform -- at the eight-car train stop. As you can imagine, the sprinting was on for those on the platform prepared to board the trains at their somewhat usual stopping points for six-car trains.

I noticed, too, as the trains came into the station that the last two cars of every one was absolutely full -- standing room commuters elbow to navel! The earlier cars in these trains were not as heavily occupied with many having no standees at all.
John A. McQuaid

What McQuaid saw on Tuesday, Red Line riders are seeing today, and will see again on Thursday. Metro is testing the ability of its power system to handle the extra load of the eight-car trains and of its personnel to operate the equipment.

Not all of the trains on the line are eight cars long but all of them are stopping where the eight-car trains stop. That's part of the test for the operators.

It's important that the operators get this right. We had plenty of reports last year of eight-car trains stopping too soon, opening their doors while at least one car was still in the tunnel. There were no reports of injuries, but we certainly can't be having any of that on Jan. 20, when the cars are expected to be jam packed. It wouldn't do to have passengers popping out into the tunnels.

So I think it's a good test, but still, it's tough on people who didn't hear about it. People are standing at their usual spots along the platform and when a six-car train pulls all the way to the end, the way an eight-car would, they have to run forward to catch up with the doors.

Metro has been making announcements, but I wish they were more frequent. I heard one at Metro Center while waiting for a train this week, but it was tough to understand over the train noise.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 7, 2009; 9:08 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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