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Red Line Still Slow This Week

Metro says that riders should expect fewer and slower-moving rush hour trains at least through Thursday morning's rush hour.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which was out in the crash zone most of the day on Saturday is continuing its investigation. The investigators don't know why the track circuit in that area failed to detect the train that had stopped, and therefore failed to prevent the oncoming train from striking it.

Until they figure out what it will take to safely send a train through that area between Takoma and Fort Totten, only one train at a time goes through. And that slows the entire Red Line. The transit authority suggests adding at least a half hour to normal travel times.

The thing is, your experience can vary a lot. You might have a ride that's close to normal. Then the next time, it's crowded and slow. The normal turnbacks at Grosvenor and Silver Spring are not occurring, because controllers want more flexibility to manage the line when it gets sluggish. Maybe a train will turn back at Grosvenor. Maybe it will turnback someplace else.

In the morning, an offloading of passengers is most likely to occur on the eastern side of the line, so trains can be sent back to Glenmont.

It's hard to predict what's going to happen next. Metro could close the line between Silver Spring and Fort Totten on Thursday night and the nights after that for further investigation. That would mean more shuttle buses and extra slow trips.

The transit authority says that if the NTSB finishes before Thursday, service will return to normal. On the other hand, if the investigators need more time, this could go on even longer.

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

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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John Catoe must go!

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 20, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse


Just got off one of the more frustrating red line commutes I've had since the crash (inbound from Glenmont). We stopped for at least 4-5 minutes after every stop until Ft. Totten, and even then we were still stop-and-go.

Looks like I'm back to bussing to the other end of the line and taking my chances there (oh well, it had been nice to actually get a seat when I was on my end...).

Posted by: | July 20, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

The service on the Red Line this weekend, Saturday & Sunday, was a terrible. Why is track work not done at night?

Posted by: Max231 | July 20, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

previous post should read "was terrible". And let me add, I felt sorry for the tourists visiting here, trying to use the Red line was a challenge.

Posted by: Max231 | July 20, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Today was unusually bad - 40 minutes from Glenmont to Takoma.

What puzzled me was that the Orange Line was also jam packed coming from New Carrollton. I realized why, when I saw that Orange Line trains were running every nine minutes.

Mr. Catoe, surely, since you're not running a lot of trains, you can make a few of them 8 car trains? Throw us a bone, please!!!

Posted by: vtavgjoe | July 20, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The total lack of predictability is the part that's really killing me. Will I get home at 6:15 tonight, or at 7:30? Who knows! Will I make my 9:00 meeting this morning at work, or will I be stumbling in at 9:15, feeling like I survived some ordeal? Who knows!

At this point I can't blame anyone who gives up and starts eating on the Metro; with 1-hour commutes becoming 2-hour commutes, I really want to pop open a granola bar too.

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 20, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Charging rush hour fares is CRIMINAL! Metro, you BLOW!

Posted by: dem4life1 | July 20, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Tell me about it. This morning, coming in from Wheaton at about 7:45 or so, we stopped outside Forest Glen - we actually were half in the tunnel and half out.

The operator said there was a train up ahead of us at Silver Spring, as well as a backup between Silver Spring and Takoma.

We inched up a bit, then sat parallel to that pocket track, where an empty train was sitting. Still waiting.

Then, they moved the empty train AHEAD of us and sent it down the line! So we had to wait for that train to clear, too.


Posted by: edwardaggie98 | July 20, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It took me 90 minuts to get from gallery place to bethesda on saturday night. And they just kept saying "we'll be holding momentarily." If i knew that momentarily meant 32 minutes, i would have gotten out and taken a taxi. And the worst part is, I paid for this?!

Posted by: geneticcounselor2 | July 20, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

What happened to July 19th? They kept saying that was the date to which you could expect delays. Of course, we know that delays on the Red line are permanent. Not a single week in years has there not been a major delay. It is simply a system you cannot count on. Good for tourists, unuseable for commuters.

Posted by: Trout1 | July 20, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

This is absurd. It's been a month. The investigators should be working around the clock and on weekends. Get the system up and running, AND stop charging rush-hour fares.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 20, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Usually a dire hard Metro rider, I've started driving. Both the average time and the variability are generally better than the Red Line is these days.

Posted by: Chaucer2 | July 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"It took me 90 minuts to get from gallery place to bethesda on saturday night. And they just kept saying "we'll be holding momentarily." If i knew that momentarily meant 32 minutes, i would have gotten out and taken a taxi. And the worst part is, I paid for this?!"

I had a similar experience. It took us 1 hour to go from Rockville Metro to Bethesda on Saturday evening around 8:30pm. Sat at Twinbrook metro for about 5 mintues or so and then sat at White Flint for 30 minutes. I was fully aware of the track work and single tracking on the red line and expected the usual waiting up to 30 minutes for a train to arrive. But usually once on the train you move relatively smoothly. This just seemed rediculous though.

I couldn't figure out why we sat for over 35 mintues waiting for the single track area to clear. This just makes no sense. It is suppose to take 8 minutes to travel the distance of the single tracking area (Grosvenor to Friendship Height). With the slower speeds let's say that takes 10 minutes. If you are only running the trains every 20 minutes that should not cause such a backup as the trains wait for the single tracking area to clear. I feel this was very poor planning on metro's part.

Dr. G, was there a reason why there were such delays? I have experienced single tracking in the exact same areas many times before and they delay is usually on the front end, since trains are run less frequently. Why was our trip so disrupted in the middle. If this is the case in the future it would be great of metro to make an annoucement of "this train will be holding here for 15 minutes while the single tracking area is cleared" rather than "the train will move momentarily". This would allow riders to plan better.

Also, any plans for having a shuttle bus (or buses) that would help bridge the gap when they are performing track work like this? I would have been happy to depart the metro at white flint and take a shuttle bus down 355 to Bethesda. Would have been quicker even with stops at Grosvenor and Medical Center.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | July 20, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree all this "the train will move momentarily" is just misleading. Several times since the horrific accident I've attempted to transfered at Gallalry Place to go to Silver Spring just to have to get back on the green line to go to Fort Totten because the red line is just too crowded several trains go by sometimes before you can board.

Posted by: luepearl62 | July 20, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

what was going on with the orange line tonight? We sat between Rosslyn & Courthouse for at least 20 minutes, then everyone had to get off the train to wait for the "next" train. but there was no sign of a next train. A bunch of us took cabs home. My commute tonight took two hours and cost $50. I must be crazy to leave my car at home.

Posted by: annie7 | July 20, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

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