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Red Line Trips Back to Normal, Sort Of

Metro's e-mail alerts about the Red Line slowdown between Fort Totten and Takoma have stopped arriving. Over the summer, they came in like clockwork at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. Train operators no longer make announcements about track circuit replacement work in that area, where the crash occurred on June 22. And the trains aren't routinely holding at the Takoma or Fort Totten stations.

So are we back to normal? Have the track circuits been replaced and are the routine slowdowns that so vexed riders on Metro's most heavily traveled line finally over?

Almost, but not quite, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel told me. "We are making progress in the repairs between these locations, and on some days, rail service will be normal and smooth," he wrote in an e-mail. "However, there are still times when we will have to make adjustments in the area, and the service might be a tad slower."

Trains still are under manual control, rather than automatic.They still are supposed to stop at the front of the station platform, so no cars are inadvertently left back in the tunnel. (Though I did see one six-car Yellow Line train fall short of that goal Thursday afternoon at Mount Vernon Square.)

Metro continues to check track circuits more frequently than it did before the crash, and trains may slow down as they pass through those areas. The list of the areas is much shorter than it was at some points over the summer.

There was an unrelated track circuit problem this morning: Trains were sharing the same track between Farragut North and Van Ness because of a circuit malfunction outside Dupont Circle.

Those suddenly-arising problems are different from the routine expectation that the trip to or from work would involve seemingly endless stops and starts with unpredictable arrival times.

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

By Robert Thomson  |  September 18, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail accident, Red Line crash, delays, slowdown  
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Next: The Weekend and Beyond

Comments

I'm cutting 10-15 minutes off my commute time each way by driving. I'm kicking myself that I stuck with Metro so long.

I have my doubts that Metro has fixed any, much less all, of the problems that led to the 6/22 crash. I think they're just "back to normal" because they're afraid of losing even more riders if they continued the summer mode.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | September 18, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Took the Red Line from Silver Spring to a meeting in Rosslyn yesterday afternoon and was pleasantly surprised that I even made up a little time on the Red Line. The ride was as jerky as I can ever remember, but at least we were moving!
Thanks Dr. G for the link to current circuit work, and kudos to Metro for finally opening up however little and posting something helpful.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | September 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I take the red line between Silver Spring and Metro Center everyday. The waits during rush hour are longer than than "normal". It is now 4-5 minutes between trains, whereas before the June crash it was only 2-3 minutes between trains. I know it is only a couple minutes difference, but it can be annoying. I guess this is the new "normal".

Posted by: SweetieJ | September 18, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It is absolutely not back to normal. I need to take the Red Line from Farragut North to Tenleytown, arriving in Tenleytown with enough time to get to a 6:30 appointment two blocks from the stop. I used to be able to leave my office at 6 pm and arrive at the doctor's at 6:20 (including walking time to/from each station). This past Wednesday, I left at 6, waited 5 minutes for a train, which was too packed to squeeze on. It was then another 5 minutes before a slightly less packed train came by. Needless to say, I was late for my 6:30 appointment.

Posted by: DCLiz | September 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"They still are supposed to stop at the front of the station platform, so no cars are inadvertently left back in the tunnel. (Though I did see one six-car Yellow Line train fall short of that goal Thursday afternoon at Mount Vernon Square.)"
This actually happens fairly frequently. But it's still complete nonsense -- You shouldn't have to pull to the front of the station to ensure all cars are within the station. All you have to do is ensure the metro train operators are competent. If you have a 6 car train, you know where you need to stop, and if you have an 8 car train, you stop at the end. Not hard.

The backups at certain stations, particularly Chinatown, red-line, are absolutely unnecessary. 6 car trains during rush hour move way past the transfer point, and bottleneck traffic. "Ensuring no cars are left in the tunnel" is NOT a valid excuse for this waste of time.

Posted by: transparenthuman6 | September 18, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Trains going downtown in the city during morning rush hour are still a joke. Too crowded to board. Will continue driving until the train system stops being a joke...looking like neve.r

Posted by: djones13 | September 18, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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