The anticipated opening of the Silver Line rail extension this summer has meant a hiring blitz for Metro. The organization has added 460 new employees in recent weeks, Metro deputy general manager Rob Troup said.
After months of delays, the Silver Line’s Phase 1 — the 11-mile extension from East Falls Church to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue — is tentatively slated to open by summer’s end, though Metro has not set an opening date.
Metro began a 90-day testing and training period on May 27. Troup said Metro’s testing and training is proceeding on schedule. Metro conducted a public safety exercise at Wiehle-Reston East 10 days ago.
Troup said on Monday Metro is concerned that Dulles Transit Partners, the division of Bechtel contracted by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to construct the $2.9 billion Phase 1, is behind schedule on its remaining punch list items. DTP has only completed “about 4 or 5” of the 33 items, and all must be finished before passengers can board the trains, Troup said.
New Metro hiring breaks down to 302 new employees in maintenance; 102 in operations; 41 transit police; 10 in IT; 2 in customer service; 3 in finance. Additionally, 48 train operators and 23 station managers have already been hired.
Not all new employees will work on the Silver Line, Troup added.
Metro will conduct simulated service for a week prior to opening. No passengers will ride the trains during the training runs, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. Trains will run on the Blue and Orange Lines from Largo Town Center to East Falls Church, but at East Falls Church they will go out of service and run on the Silver Line from East Falls Church to Wiehle-Reston East.
Metro will conduct a second public safety drill at the Spring Hill Station on June 29, Stessel said.
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Fairfax Connector is now in its sixth consecutive day without service, as workers continue their strike for better pay, benefits and working conditions.