Metro will soon expand temporary station closures for track repairs, in place of single tracking. Though shuttle buses will be provided between the affected stations, closures are scheduled to happen around the system for two-thirds of weekends over the next 18 months.
The idea, Metro says, is to inconvenience the smallest number of riders possible by minimizing train delays in other parts of the system. For instance, track work done on the Red Line near Rockville with single tracking could lead to train delays at Union Station, clear on the other side of the line. Station closures, they say, will minimize impact on other riders not in the immediate area. But those forced to travel by bus instead of train may not appreciate this move, with many riders potentially adding large travel times to their trips.
“Our goal here is to minimize the work zone, and get the work done faster and more safely,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. “Single tracking is not as efficient as having a track outage. As the train is passing through, workers on the adjacent track have to step away. The work stops.”
Stessel acknowledges that there may be some inconvenience, but that work schedules will be published months in advance so riders can adequately prepare.
The changes will more quickly implement National Transportation Safety Board reforms to the system brought about by 2009’s Red Line crash. Stessel insisted that neither the NTSB nor other bodies pushed Metro to expedite their safety reforms.
This doesn’t mean the end to single tracking, but it should only happen during the week at off-peak hours, according to Stessel.