After getting feedback from federal officials, Metro on Thursday released the final version of its year-long “SafeTrack” plan to repair the troubled rail system. SafeTrack is scheduled to begin on June 4 along a part of the Orange and Silver lines in Virginia. Fifteen staggered projects across Metrorail will affect service, leading to continuous single tracking and several station closures.
Metro had released a draft of the plan earlier this month. But days later, the Federal Transit Administration, which is responsible for safety oversight of Metro this year, ordered the agency to prioritize repairs along three track segments. SafeTrack’s updated version in part reflects that directive, with a repair project on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines spanning the Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave./Benning Road stations now slated for June 18 to July 3. This surge will entail SafeTrack’s first segment shutdown.
“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement. “SafeTrack also includes weeknight work that will require single track operations in sections starting at 8 p.m.; it means closing the system at midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m. and committing to a moratorium on extra hours of early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.”
Metrorail’s last 3 a.m. closure will be on Saturday, May 28. Midnight closures will last for the duration of SafeTrack and possibly after. Wiedefeld has explained it isn’t feasible to get the amount of work Metro needs done with only 33 hours of repairs a week.
“Many of the surges will severely reduce the frequency of trains, resulting in crowding and extended wait times,” Metro says in a release, advising riders to make plans for alternative transit. For example, during the first surge—targeting the East Falls Church to Ballston stations—round-the-clock single tracking will produce “reduced service at all Orange and Silver line stations.” West of Ballston, trains will only run every 18 minutes, Metro adds. The project is set to last for 13 days and affect 73,000 weekday trips.
The most disruptive surge is likely to be the one along the Red Line in October, requiring a complete shutdown from the NoMa to Fort Totten stations. That segment sees 108,000 weekday trips, according to Metro. It will endure for 23 days starting on Oct. 10.
The SafeTrack schedule that Metro released includes five segment shutdowns. The entire plan is expected to wrap up in March:
Metro and federal officials will regularly conduct “independent verification and inspection of track work… to ensure that the work is being done correctly and efficiently,” the agency says. It adds that it will keep riders informed with “expansive public outreach.”
Read the full plan below:
This post has been updated.