Metro May Go to Permanent Early Closing Time

First Silver Line train at Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike HeffnerMetro GM/CEO Paul Wiedenfeld plans to suggest this week at the Metro system begin closing at 10 p.m. on Sunday and midnight all other nights, even after the SafeTrack program ends next spring.

Wiedenfeld said in a statement his plan is following rail expert and peer transit agency recommendations. The move will require Board approval following a public engagement process this fall.

Under the proposed schedule, the Metrorail system would be open 127 out of 168 hours in a week. Prior to SafeTrack, the system was open 135 hours per week. The additional track time increases safety and reliability by giving workers the time and space they need to keep Metro’s infrastructure in a state of good repair, Metro says.

Wiedefeld engaged peer transit agencies and rail engineering consultants, all of whom urged that the focus on track safety and maintenance continue to prevent Metro from sliding backward.

Earlier this year, Wiedefeld announced a one-year accelerated maintenance plan, called SafeTrack, which includes expanded track access through midnight closings on weekends (on a temporary basis), a moratorium on early openings or late closings, and expanded track work during midday and evening hours. Metro is in the midst of the fifth of 15 “Safety Surges” which close or alter various sections of the system at a time.

The SafeTrack plan is intended to achieve three years’ worth of work in one year and allow work crews to eliminate a maintenance backlog and address safety recommendations from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Wiedefeld is expected to formally propose the change at Thursday’s Metro Board of Directors’ meeting.

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