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Metro Resumes Normal Service on Stretch of Track Involved in Crash

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By James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 7, 2009; 4:54 PM

Normal service has returned to the stretch of track between Fort Totten and Takoma for the first time since the June 22 crash, Metro said Wednesday, which will allow the transit agency to increase passenger capacity on the Red Line.

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For the past few months, 38 trains ran during morning and afternoon rush hours. Effective immediately, 44 trains will run on Red Line track during peak hours, Metro said.

Crews have replaced the track circuit between the stations, the agency said, which means trains no longer need to travel at reduced speeds through that area. They also will no longer have to run on a so-called absolute block, whereby only one train can move along that section of track at a time.

Other Red Line work continues. Track circuits near Takoma and Silver Spring stations still need repairs. Metro said that work should be imperceptible to customers: Trains will share a single track from 10 p.m. until closing Sunday through Thursday nights and run at normal intervals of 15 to 20 minutes.

The announcement comes more than a month after the replacement was scheduled to be finished.

"There was a lot of repair work that needed to be done, and then testing to make sure everything was connected and working properly," Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates said.

Over the past few months, crews replaced all of the original track equipment in the area, including thousands of feet of underground cabling. Some of it dated back to the mid-1970s, when the system opened.

"They ripped everything out, and they had to rebuild it completely," Gates said. "It's literally everything."

Federal investigators have not determined the cause of the accident, but they have focused on the track circuit system.

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