Metro officials said they plan to try a new approach to doing track work — instead of single-tracking trains on a line it is proposing to close stations along the line to do maintenance and repair work in hope that it will keep at least part of the line running.
The new approach will be implemented for about two of every three weekends over the next 18 months as Metro continues its aggressive $6 billion capital improvements push to rehab the aging rail system.
Metro will close individual stations or clusters of stations and provide buses in spots where the rail stations are closed. Officials are trying to have at least part of a line open rather than creating delays on the entire line while work is done and the line is single-tracked.
“Our aggressive approach will enable us to get more work done, more safely and more effectively with less overtime, while inconveniencing fewer customers,” said Richard Sarles, Metro’s general manager and chief executive in a statement.
Metro tried the approach over Memorial Day weekend. Rather than single-tracking every train through a work zone and affecting service along the entire line, it offered free shuttle bus service around the work area.
The shift in how it does its track work means Metro will be 18 months ahead of its program to replace track circuit modules on the Red Line — a recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Metro said it is still finalizing its upcoming schedule of rail projects and station closures. It promised to provide “extensive public notification and outreach” to give “customers ample notice about the weekend track work.”
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