Author Archive

Pocket Tracks

August 2nd, 2013 No comments

Adding special types of tracks at key locations in the system will provide more flexibility to the overall system.

  • Pocket tracks: allow trains to turn back in the direction from which they came (short-lining), gap trains to be stored until placed in revenue service, and the staging of track equipment until nighttime trackwork
  • Crossovers: allow trains to single track during incidents or nighttime trackwork

Pocket-Tracks---Schematic-MapPurpose and Need

The Metrorail system includes various single- and double-crossovers and additional ones will shorten the distance of single tracking. The system also has seven mid-route turnbacks, each of which is configured to operate as a third or “pocket” track capable of storing an eight-car train. To improve efficiency and reduce operating costs, certain lines could utilize a pocket track for a “short-lining” turnback to provide improved service to the highest-demand segments of the line. Other new pocket tracks would allow for storage of gap trains, disabled trains and track equipment. Read more…

New Blue Line Connections

July 12th, 2013 13 comments

Adding new Blue Line connections seeks to restore train frequencies  to every six minutes during the peak period between Pentagon and Rosslyn stations, resulting in less waiting time and crowding for Blue Line riders in Northern Virginia. Once the Silver Line opens, the Blue Line service will operate every 12-14 minutes as opposed to the previous six minutes. The feasibility analysis is currently underway and has identified two potential alternatives to create new connections:

  • Alternative 1: Add rail track that would create a new connection between the Blue and Orange/Silver Lines, or
  • Alternative 2: A second Rosslyn Station for a new Blue Line with an underground passageway to the existing Rosslyn station, which would connect to the Orange/Silver Lines with a pedestrian tunnel.

Graphic for Rosslyn Interline ConnectionGraphic for Second Rosslyn Station

Read more…

Operating Longest Possible Trains During the Peak Period

June 21st, 2013 6 comments

Timeline to Have Sufficient Railcars to Operate 100% 8-Car Trains

Operating the longest trains possible during the peak periods will maximize the capacity of the existing Metrorail system by enabling operations of 100 percent eight-car trains. Metro will upgrade, replace or expand:

  • The rail car fleet
  • Traction power substations
  • Power cabling
  • Third rail
  • Train control systems
  • Storage tracks and maintenance bays in the yards

Purpose and Need

The Metro system’s core is the destination or transfer point for 80 percent of all rail riders system-wide. Crowded conditions during peak periods exist currently and, without rail fleet expansion, most rail lines will be even more congested by 2025. Operating 100 percent eight-car trains during peak periods and increasing the capacity of transfer stations (under a related initiative) will provide adequate capacity through 2025.

Read more…

Metro and the Region’s (Expanding) Transit Network

November 20th, 2012 1 comment

Conceptual rendering of the Columbia Pike Streetcar.

While many area residents think of Metro as the only regional transit provider, many transit projects under development in the region are being sponsored by Metro’s partner agencies. For example, the Silver Line is currently being managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the Purple Line by the Maryland Transit Administration.

That doesn’t mean that Metro doesn’t have an important role to play in these projects. In fact, sometimes the project sponsors request that Metro - using its resources and expertise as the fourth-busiest transit system in the nation - manage aspects of the project development process.

For Arlington and Fairfax Counties, Metro managed the study of the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The study, which ended this past October, included an alternatives analysis/environmental assessment, conceptual plans and an application to enter the Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration.  Many of these documents are available online.  Arlington County continues the project’s development, soon to enter preliminary engineering.

For the District of Columbia, Metro has managed the feasibility study of the Benning Road streetcar extension. The study, which will end shortly, includes alignment alternatives and evaluation of bridge structures.

Metro is also coordinating the interoperability of the multiple streetcar lines.View the press release and the board presentation (PDF) about this study. Metro will be addressing Metrobus service and Metrobus fare transactions on streetcar lines.

Metro is proud to play a large and important role in the planning and coordination of transit projects around the region and is using its strategic planning process, Momentum, to explore ways that it can best serve the region’s transit coordination, operation, and development needs.

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Developing and Implementing a New Rail Line

May 23rd, 2011 8 comments
Diagram of the New Starts federal funding program process, from the FTA website.  Click for more information.

With increasing fuel prices and a rebounding economy soon to increase transit demand and with the progress of the Metro’s Regional Transit System Plan, it is opportune to reflect on the time and effort necessary to develop and implement a new rail line, be it Metrorail, light rail or streetcar. An important time factor is the Federal procedures and evaluations for Federal funding, upon which most ‘major capital investments’ in rail transit are reliant. The Federal share can range from 30 to 50 percent of the total project cost. The two most recent Metrorail extensions – Blue Line to Largo Town Center and the Dulles Corridor Line to Wiehle Avenue Station – follow or exceed the experience across the nation of 10 to 12 years from start of alternatives analysis (AA) to start of revenue operations. The Maryland Transit Administration conducted the AA of the Blue Line extension in the early 1990s; the 3-mile extension opened in late 2004. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation conducted the AA (then, a Major Investment Study, MIS) of the Dulles Corridor extension in the mid-1990’s; the 11-mile extension to the Wiehle Avenue Station will open in late 2013, nearly twenty years later.

For both these heavy rail extensions and for the light rail and streetcar projects now under development, the original project delivery schedules were more compressed. For example, the Dulles Corridor Task Force recommended in 1999 that the Dulles Corridor extension be open through Tysons Corner by 2006. An explanation for the differences in original and actual schedules includes, but is not limited to, extended timeframes for the following:

Read more…

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