By James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 3, 2009
Metro officials announced last night that they will increase the speed of Red Line trains to the normal level at 7 a.m. today to accommodate the onslaught of riders expected over the Fourth of July weekend.
Trains on the line were barred from traveling faster than 35 mph after the crash June 22, which killed nine and injured 80. The trains on all lines will continue to be operated manually rather than by onboard computers, but they can now go as fast as 59 mph.
The move is aimed at easing crowding and alleviating delays. But even with the change, anyone heading to the Mall on the Red Line should expect delays because the area of track between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations might close tonight as part of the investigation. Metro officials will continue an "absolute block" through that area, meaning that Red Line trains will proceed one at a time. Metro officials have not announced whether they will maintain normal speeds next week.
The decision came after a meeting between senior Metro officials and National Transportation Safety Board investigators, who signed off on it. Trains will move to a Saturday schedule today, meaning they will arrive about every 12 minutes.