Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

From scheduled maintenance to security training exercises — and the surprise return of speedy automatic doors on the Red Line — here’s what will be impacting your Metro rides this weekend and in the near future.

Capitol South station closed till Sunday

Metro Transit Police and U.S. Capitol Police will be conducting a law enforcement exercise on Sept. 17 at Capitol South that will close off the entire station from when it opens until 2 p.m. Trains will not be traveling through the station and riders will have to jump on a shuttle to get to the next Metro stop.

Metro Transit Police in coordination with U.S. Capitol Police will conduct a full-scale law enforcement exercise on Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Capitol South Station. (Courtesy WMATA)

For riders: Free shuttle buses will be available to connect riders traveling between Federal Center SW and Eastern Market. The Blue Line and Silver Line will have normal service surrounding the closed stop, with trains arriving every 12 minutes. The Orange Line will only connect from Vienna to Ballston and Eastern Market to New Carrollton, with customers having to transfer to the Silver Line at Ballston to continue to any stops before Capitol South.

The shuttle bus locations are outlined below:

  • Federal Center SW — Third St SW and D St SW at the station entrance.
  • Capitol South — Independence Ave SE & First St SE.
  • Eastern Market — Pennsylvania Ave SE between Seventh St SE and Eighth St SE. Customers traveling westbound should board on Pennsylvania Ave SE opposite the station entrance. Customers traveling eastbound should board on Pennsylvania Ave SE at the station entrance.

What are the police doing? The law enforcement agencies will be simulating the response to an active assailant in the Metro, with more than 100 emergency responders and staff from around the city participating in the drill. That being said, don’t be alarmed by simulated ammunition noises and a lot of police activity around the Capitol South station if you’re just walking by.

Four stations closed on the Red Line for maintenance

The Red Line will be shut down between Shady Grove and North Bethesda this weekend, as maintenance teams replace the switches where the two tracks intersect. Maintaining the equipment in the interlocking ensures trains can continue to safely cross over from one track to the other when there is a service disruption or single tracking. Metro will also be installing fiber-optic cables, removing and installing new rail and replacing rail ties.

For riders: Normal Red Line service will continue between Glenmont and Grosvenor, with trains arriving every eight minutes during the day and every 10 minutes after 9 p.m. Free shuttles will be replacing the last four stops after the Grosvenor-Strathmore station. Metro also recommends riders get on at Grosvenor to get into D.C. as an alternative, as there is free parking at the station on the weekends.

Lasting all weekend: The maintenance is scheduled to start Friday night when the Metro shuts down and continues until the Metro reopens at 5 a.m. on Monday morning.

Automatic doors return, but just to the Red Line

WMATA is slowly bringing back automatic train operations to the Metro, with automatic door openings returning to the Red Line as soon as October, according to a memo from the WMATA board meeting on Thursday.

The Metro was completely automatically operated when it opened in 1976, but the railway system switched to manually operated traincars after a crash in 2009 that killed nine people and injured over 80. Metro officials have said the safety concerns from that crash, including faulty track circuits, have all been addressed and they are hoping to return to automation to address the human errors that have lead to more recent Metrorail issues.

There’s no question that the automated doors will save time for Metro riders and the system as a whole. As the video below shows, it can save nearly 10 seconds of detraining at each platform.

The automatic doors should also eliminate dangerous human operator errors, including the doors opening on the wrong side of the train.

Metro tried to bring back automatic doors in 2019, and then quietly shut the program down after a couple of days, when doors started unexpectedly closing automatically. Metro had also planned to bring back automatic train operations by the end of 2023, but now that rollout is delayed till next year.

Metro is conducting a comprehensive safety certification process before the automated doors start operating on the Red Line next month.

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