The Washington Metro will close rail stations over eight upcoming weekends as it expands its maintenance overhaul after federal authorities criticized the agency for a July derailment, Metro said Tuesday.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, as Metro is formally known, extended the current Red Line surge, originally scheduled to end Thursday, through the weekend. While weekday service has been reduced by single-tracking, four stations on the western end of the line — White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove — will close Saturday and Sunday, Metro said in a news release.
The next stage of the 10-month project will be delayed as a result, starting Aug. 27 and running through Sept. 11. Trains on the Blue Line will single-track between Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations, except during the phase’s three weekends, when the Franconia-Springfield station will shut down completely. The Van Dorn Street station and the Franconia-Springfield station will close over the Labor Day weekend.
In the following stage, portions of the Orange Line — where a train derailed in July — will close for four consecutive weekends. That stage will begin Sept. 15, six days later than originally scheduled. Orange Line trains between Vienna and West Falls Church will run on a single track until Oct. 26, except on weekends when two or three stations will close completely.
The move came after Metro weathered criticism from the Federal Transit Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for the July 29 derailment near the East Falls Church station. That train came off the track due to a wide gauge resulting from WMATA not conducting critical maintenance work on rail fasteners near crossover tracks, the federal regulators found.
Last week, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said some parts of the maintenance overhaul the agency has dubbed SafeTrack would expand to include weekend closures. The step was an effort to ensure that proper attention was paid to crossover areas, he said.
The revised schedule aimed “to allow for the completion of additional work on crossover tracks, address new safety recommendations and account for the impact of extreme heat, humidity and other weather impacts,” Metro said in the Tuesday news release.
Wiedefeld said he will announce changes to the final six stages of the project in mid-September.