Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WMATA identifies cause of Red Line signal problem

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Red Line trains at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station. Red Line trains at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station. WMATA Photograph by Larry Levine

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has identified a communications cable in need of replacement along a segment of its Red Line.



WMATA said the cable is about 40 years old and dates back to the Metrorail system's initial construction. The cable is used by the signal system to transmit train speed and location data between control rooms located at Brookland, Fort Totten and Takoma.

"We have detected a condition that, left unaddressed, could affect the integrity of the signal system, and that is something we take very seriously," said Joseph Leader, WMATA's chief operating officer. "Safety demands that the cable be taken out of service and replaced."

WMATA said if the cable installation this weekend goes smoothly, normal Red Line service could be restored by Dec. 18.

To mitigate safety concerns relating to the cable, WMATA is restricting the number of Red Line trains active between particular stations.

Only one train is permitted on each track at a time between Brookland and Fort Totten. WMATA said only a single train is allowed on each track between Fort Totten and Takoma, as well. The restrictions reduce the capacity of the Red Line, resulting in congestion and delays.

The transit authority said it is working quickly to resolve the cable issue and is currently planning to replace trains with buses along a section of the line this weekend to allow crews to install a new cable.

WMATA said it will also modify Red Line service slightly to reduce delays until new cables are installed. During rush hours, trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont will run every 10 minutes, rather than every eight minutes.

Additional trains will run between Grosvenor and NoMa-Gallaudet, resulting in service about every 5 minutes between those stations, rather than every 4 minutes.