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WMATA Continues on 15 Rail Safety 'Surges'; Work Will Achieve State of Good Repair for Metrorail

As Passenger Transport went to press, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was implementing the fourth of 15 “safety surges” as part of its SafeTrack program to improve the six lines of the Metrorail system.

WMATA officials have said that SafeTrack, which both expands maintenance time on weeknights, weekends and midday hours and periodically shuts down parts of the system, will complete three years’ worth of work in approximately one year. The safety surges include both line-segment shutdowns and around-the-clock single tracking.

Following the conclusion of Surge #2 on July 3, WMATA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said all planned work had been completed during the 16-day project and the critical junction where three rail lines diverge is now in a state of good repair. This work included replacing four major switches, installing fiberglass third-rail insulators in place of porcelain insulators (one of which had been involved in an incident that temporarily shut down service on one line), replacing more than 500 wooden crossties, eliminating more than 20 rail joints and inspecting and repairing more than 180 power cables.

In October 2015, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx instructed FTA to assume direct and temporary safety oversight of WMATA’s Metrorail system until Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia set up a new, fully-functioning State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) that FTA confirms complies with federal law.

WMATA made progress on this effort July 12 as the Washington, D.C., City Council began the process to approve legislation establishing a tri-jurisdictional Metro Safety Commission.
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