Major test of the Silver Line set for this weekend

Construction on the Silver Line in November. The new 11 mile rail line is expected to open in early 2014. (Tracy Woodward/Washington Post)
Construction on the Silver Line in November. The new 11 mile rail line is expected to open in early 2014. (Tracy Woodward/Washington Post)

One of the last big tests before the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority hands the first phase of the Silver Line over to Metro takes place this weekend.

Saturday night, officials will conduct a “simulated service” exercise, running trains along the new spur of the rail extension between East Falls Church and Wiehle Avenue. The goal is to see how the new line integrates with the rest of the system. As part of the trial run, 10 eight-car trains will operate along the rail line at the same time Metro is running regular Orange Line service.

The testing is expected to be completed by Sunday morning.

Officials at MWAA, which is responsible for overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion rail line, said they expect to hand it over to Metro sometime in February. They had originally anticipated the project would be completed in September, but a series of delays and problems with software systems related to the automated train control system forced them to delay the hand-off. Once it takes control of the Silver Line, Metro has up to 90 days to conduct training and its own testing of the rail line.

Officials have not said when passenger service will begin on the highly-anticipated new line, which will include four stops in Tysons Corner and one in Reston. Preliminary work on the second phase has already begun. That portion, which includes a stop at Washington Dulles International Airport, is expected to be completed in 2018.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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