A Metro official says the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is making progress on pre-operational fixes to the Silver Line, however he still cannot pinpoint an opening date for the first phase of the $5.6 billion rail extension.
“We are tracking to be able to provide service sometime this summer,” Rob Troup, Metro Deputy General Manager of Operations said Monday in a media conference call. “A lot depends on progress MWAA makes in resolving issues. I can’t tell you an operational readiness date, but I am encouraged by the progress.”
Troup said that MWAA is “at the more than the halfway point for the pre-ORD items.”
On April 23, MWAA and Metro agreed to accept the project as “substantially complete,” but to also allow MWAA additional time to complete certain items. Without this agreement, MWAA would have been required to complete all items before Metro takes control, meaning an opening date that would be later in the year.
The project is already nearly eight months behind schedule.
Troup said there are 13 pre-operation readiness (ORD) categories, and those categories have 33 subsets of fixes. Among those deemed fixed are station leaks (including some at Wiehle-Reston East) and a loss of speed readout issue. Faulty wiring in the station speakers is on its way to being fixed, as is an issue with the Horton Remote Terminal Units (RTUs), which help run the crucial Automatic Train Control software, said Troup.
“The RTU issue…is not a vital safety issue,” said Troup. “It is a reliability issue.”
Troup said Metro wants 98 percent RTU reliability. After Metro accepts operational readiness, there will be a complete changeout of the system.
Over the weekend, an issue arose with the bobbing track circuit, said Troup. Bobbing Track Circuits have to do with the junction of the Silver and Orange lines east of the East Falls Church Station. A circuit will go into a false sense of occupancy and the approaching train will go into a braking mode, said Troup.
The April 23 agreement called for adding four blocking capacitors to address the issue. The fixes fared well in testing, but over the weekend one failed, said Troup. He said this is also a reliability issue and not a safety issue, and after operational readiness this will also have a system upgrade.
Additional testing is being performed to see if the failure was a system issue or a component failure. Those test results should be available on Tuesday, Troup said.
Once Metro and MWAA agree on pre-operational readiness, Metro will have 90 days to complete its own testing and training.
Photo: Metro file photo