Red Line Trains Not Doing Normal Turnbacks
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Since the tragic accident, Metro has been running all trains from Shady Grove, rather than having some start from Grovesnor. As a result, trains are arriving fairly packed at Grovesnor, and downstream, virtually impossible to get on. Why can't Metro return to its practice of having alternate trains begin at Grovesnor?
That practice allows folks to get on the train without difficulties all the way into D.C. At Dupont Circle on Monday, the train I was riding was so packed that the doors jammed and the conductor "offloaded" the train's passengers onto an already overcrowded platform. I gave up and walked to Judiciary Square. I can't do that every day in D.C.'s hot summers.
Alternatively, how about treating some trains as "express" and skipping some stations so that every car is not packed?
Carol H. Shulman
I think Metro is underestimating how much information it needs to get out to the hot, tired and late commuters on the Red Line. The transit authority has taken several steps, out of caution, since the train wreck on June 22. Those steps have affected trains throughout the system, but it has been most dramatic on the Red Line.
All trains are under manual control and will continue that way for some time, until the transit authority certifies that the automatic controls are safe. But the Red Line is the only one with two speed restrictions. That could change in time for the July 4 holiday, but it will not happen until the National Transportation Safety Board investigators finish their work in the crash zone and Metro does a safety check to make sure that trains can move at their normal speeds.
For now, trains are moving most slowly through the Takoma-Fort Totten zone where the crash occurred. That has a ripple effect through the entire line, from Shady Grove to Glenmont. Trains could get bunched up or spread out at various points. So Metro imposed a 35 mph speed limit all along the rest of the Red Line. That helps maintain some sort of a flow outside the really slow spot on the eastern side of the line.
Tell that to the people squeezing aboard those trains this morning.
With the line in this condition, the normal turnbacks of some trains at Grosvernor and Silver Spring lose their purpose. The turnbacks are meant to keep more trains in the system's core, where most of the riders are. Right now, the people controlling the line need to adjust to crowding in other ways.
They are holding trains along the line to spread them out more. And they are keeping the option of offloading some trains at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland or Fort Totten during the morning rush and sending the trains back to Glenmont to pick up more passengers.
The shuttle buses are still taking people between Silver Spring, Takoma, Fort Totten, Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue, Metro says. But when the line is operating on two tracks -- even this slowly -- it makes more sense to stick with the trains, rather the back streets of the District, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.
July 1, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Metro , Safety , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash
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