The second phase of the Silver Line may finally be ready to begin in time for the start of busy Thanksgiving travel, Metro announced today.
But the opening of the long-anticipated and long-delayed extension into Loudoun County is pending security certifications from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. Metro says it also still needs more trains to officially support the extension.
“We committed for the Silver Line extension to being operationally ready for the Silver Line extension in October, and we have met our deadline,” Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said. “Since control of the extension was turned over to Metro, we and our partners at the Airports Authority, Fairfax, and Loudoun have worked diligently to complete all of the steps needed for Metro to offer safe and reliable service for rail travel to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, and we are just awaiting concurrence from our Safety Commission partners.”
The WMSC still needs to provide approvals of two submissions: a return-to-service plan for 7000-series railcars and a safety certification report on the extension project. The commission formally rejected Metro’s new return-to-service plan for its 7000-series rail cars.
“Metro does not view the final Silver Line safety certification report as a barrier to preparing for the opening of passenger service before Thanksgiving holiday travel,” Metro said in a statement.
Last month, Metro’s senior safety and operations officials said they were concerned about the safety of moving cars from other crowded lines for new service, citing the need for more trains.
Metro says that it’s confused by WMSC’s rejection of its plan, noting the following:
The letter indicates that there are differences in the track interface with trains on Blue/Orange/Silver lines that require monitoring, then indicates permission to run on those lines temporarily, but offers no metrics for successful completion;
The letter implies that Metro could swap axles to increase the fleet; however, that is operationally infeasible and would impact Metro’s ability to safely and efficiently manage its fleet, as well as changes many variables at once;
WMSC approved in December 2021 the use of the 7K fleet on all rail lines, and is now using the same data analysis to justify fleet restrictions, with no definitive root cause identified in the NTSB investigation.
Metro took control of the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in June. The project’s completion has been delayed several times over the last two years.
FFXnow has reached out to WMSC for comment.
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