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Slowdown Continues on Tracks Near Takoma

This is an update on a question I received during last Monday's online discussion. First, the question:

Washington, D.C.: Is there some kind of secret track work going on on the Red Line in the Takoma/Fort Totten area? I live in Silver Spring and work near Judiciary Square, so I ride the Metro every day. I would say 90% of the trips consist of the train slowing to a crawl for a good five or more minutes near those stations, with absolutely no explanation. No advisory alerts, no delay announcements, nothing. The train sometimes stops, but mostly just crawls along very, very slowly.

Very observant, though my experience was that the slowdown just south of Takoma Station lasts about a minute.

Metro workers detected a water drainage problem in that area that has softened the ground underneath the tracks. It's safe to ride, the transit authority says, but the ground needs to be stabilized. As a precaution, train speeds have been restricted for a couple of weeks while Metro prepares a fix.

This week, workers will be out correcting the problem. Some of the activity will occur at night, when the rail system is shut down. But the major effort is set for this coming weekend, when the work will create delays on the Red Line between Silver Spring and Fort Totten from 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Sunday.

During that time, the work will focus on the inbound track. Crews will remove two 39-foot sections of rail, remove the ballast and rock underneath, put in some new drainage pumps, resurface the area and put in two new sections of rail, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

Metro train operators alert riders as to why their train has stopped. (Sometimes it seems like too much communication, with repeated announcements tot he same audience during the same hold.) But there's no announcement when the train simply slows. Do you think there should be?

Metro track inspections sometimes detect problems like this that need to be corrected but don't constitute emergencies. Until the fix is made, speed restrictions are imposed as a precaution. Another traveler asked me about one on the opposite side of the Red Line, near Friendship Heights, on the Glenmont-bound side of the tracks. There was a slight narrowing of the rails in that area that's been fixed, so riders today should find trains moving at normal speeds.

Metro Resources:  Riding the System  |  Trip Planner   |   Map  |  Post Coverage

By Robert Thomson  |  April 20, 2009; 6:06 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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A minute? Slowdowns this morning caused my usual 20 minute ride from Metro Center to Silver Spring to last almost 40 minutes. At one point, just before the Takoma station, the train would stop, lurch forward a few feet, stop again, lurch again, repeating 5-6 times before finally picking up speed.

At least knowing the reason for it now will make the delay a bit more tolerable, and also give me reason to ride the green line for the rest of the week.

Posted by: gilmoredaniel | April 20, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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