Democracy Dies in Darkness


DC Rider’s Answer Line: There’s no easy out for looming Metro disruptions

August 5, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Q: I understand that the Orange and Silver line trains can’t run on a normal schedule while Metro is rebuilding the track between the McPherson and Smithsonian stations. But why can’t the trains run on a normal schedule outside of where the work is being done, and maybe turn around at McPherson and Smithsonian?

A:  Wouldn’t that be nice?

The upcoming project is going to create “significantly reduced service” on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines from Aug. 11 through Aug. 26, and will entail lengthy bouts of continuous single-tracking. Rail capacity is going to be so limited that Metro has starkly advised riders of those lines to find some other way to commute during this time.

But unfortunately, the simple answer to this question is there’s no place for trains to turn around at McPherson or Smithsonian.

As the Post has noted before, Metro was built with very few pocket tracks — a third track where trains can get out of the way and turn around.

“Turning trains back in the middle of a line is not feasible,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. “There is only one place on the system where this happens as part of regularly scheduled service, and that’s the Yellow Line at Fort Totten — and even that is only possible during non-peak times, never in rush hour.”

Let us know what frustrates or confounds you about Metro. Reach us at or @theDCrider.

Read more DC Rider:

For blind Metro riders, it’s about more than minding the gap

On the first weekday of Red Line track work, commuters would ‘rather ride a horse’

DC Rider’s Answer Line: This is a 7000-series train. So what?

Kery Murakami is a reporter focusing on feature stories about those who ride and work in the Metro system. He also serves as an advocate to get the transit system to answer questions and deal with concerns raised by its customers.

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