Chairman: Washington subway 'going to shine' on Inauguration Day

WMATA's Jack Evans says despite past problems, the transit system is ready for Friday's crowds
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A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Red line train headed to Washington Union Station.
Trains: Steve Sweeney
WASHINGTON — Washington's Metro system is ready for thousands of riders on Inauguration Day on Friday. In fact, they are more than ready, says Jack Evans, chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority board of directors.

“Metro is going to shine. It's going to be our finest hour. I mean that,” Evans tells Trains News Wire. “We are ready. We will be running rush hour service from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Inauguration Day.”

Metro will continue with regular service until midnight on Friday. The Secret Service ordered five stations in downtown Washington closed for security reasons: Archives, Federal Triangle, Mt. Vernon Square, Pentagon, and Smithsonian.

The system will open at 5 a.m. for people attending the Women's March on Washington on Saturday. Metro is adding two-dozen extra trains to the Red and Orange lines. Extra trains will also run from Franconia-Springfield to Greenbelt between 6 and 10 a.m. and 1 and 5 p.m.

Evans says there will be some 500,000 to 600,000 patrons attending the inauguration on Friday.

“People talk about the numbers forget we transport 800,000 people every day,” Evans says. “We will be putting everything out there that we've got. The trains are ready to go. People are ready to work.”
Jack Evans, WMATA Chairman
Associated Press

The unexpected still may happen, but Metro is arguably in better shape now than the last event that brought a large crowd to Washington. Operation SafeTrack, a one-year safety “blitz” is at the halfway point. The program has taken entire sections of the system out of service to upgrade right-of-way, power, and control systems. The work is being done in intervals that Metro calls surges.

The latest surge ended on Dec. 20 on 1.5 miles on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations in Virginia. Metro replaced 15,700 feet of rail, 1,900 crossties, eight power cables, 98 cables that connect to the third rail, and 200 insulators. The next surge is scheduled to start in February.

The East Falls Church station was the site of a July 29 derailment that resulted in investigations by Amtrak police and the Federal Railroad Administration, and a stinging report by the National Transportation Safety Board. Metro fired six inspectors and two supervisors for falsifying track inspection reports as a result of the investigations.

In November, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld launched Back2Good, a program to improve the reliability of Metro's rolling stock.

“We've been working on this for months, to make sure everything goes without at hitch,” Evans says. “That's why I say this is our finest hour. People will see how valuable Metro is, and bolster my claims that we need more funding to get this thing fixed.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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