The arrival of more 7000 series rail cars will allow Metro to end the train turnbacks at Grosvenor. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Metro’s decision to buy an extra batch of new rail cars comes with the promise that, a few years from now, Red Line service north of Grosvenor will be more frequent. With the addition of new cars, Metrorail will stop turning back about half the Red Line’s outbound trains at Grosvenor during rush hours.

For years, Maryland and Montgomery County officials have lobbied for this change, because it should ease crowding at the stations between Grosvenor and the end of the line at Shady Grove.

But not all riders will be pleased about that. It depends on where they board the trains.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
All seats on the Red Line are filled by Rockville. So why does Metro leadership think riders south of that station will be happy to hear they’re eliminating the Grosvenor trains? For riders boarding at Grosvenor and south, those trains are the only chance for a seat during the morning rush commute.

Riders boarding at Twinbrook and White Flint often leave the SRO train to take a seat at Grosvenor. Does Metro really think all riders boarding south of Rockville will pay rush hour fares to stand up for rides up to 30 minutes? I’ve been a daily rider from Grosvenor to Metro Center since 1990, but this might be what finally makes me switch. Along with the lack of grab poles for short passengers in the mid space of the new cars.

Don’t Kill The Grosvenor Train!
— Trixie Commenie, White Flint

The west side of the Red Line is one of the most crowded parts of the Metrorail system. In the mornings, riders are mostly boarding — rather than exiting — until the inbound trains reach Dupont Circle. Because Metro doesn’t have enough rail cars to meet overall demand, it does a bit of triage on the Red Line. During peak periods, the transit authority attempts to ease crowding in the heart of the Red Line by having some trains operate only between Grosvenor and Silver Spring, so they’ll turn back sooner to serve the very most crowded platforms.

[Join me at noon Monday to discuss this and other travel issues in an online chat.]

If your west side station is, let’s say, Shady Grove or Rockville, you probably hate this. In the morning there are fewer trains to board, so they’re more crowded. In the afternoon, a “Shady Grove” train also will be very crowded. You have the option of boarding a “Grosvenor” train, and some will because it might be somewhat less crowded. But you will need to wait on the Grosvenor platform for the next Shady Grove-bound train.

But Commenie is speaking for a segment of the riders who board at Grosvenor or a bit farther south, at stations such as Bethesda. If they see a super-crowed train bound for Glenmont, meaning it started out at Shady Grove. They may decide to let it pass and wait for the next “Silver Spring” train, which would have originated at Grosvenor.

The same tactic works on the other side of the line. A morning rider at Silver Spring may find a “Shady Grove” train pretty crowded, even though it originated just a few stops away at Glenmont. The rider may see that there’s another train waiting on the siding just north of the platform. That’s going to become a “Grosvenor” train in a moment or two, and will be empty when it pulls up to the Silver Spring platform. Let the “Shady Grove” train pass.

Red Line riders, how do you feel about the Metro board’s decision on the Grosvenor turnbacks?