Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board approved running eight-car trains on the Orange Line during a six-month test period starting in January.
The authority could improve service if it ran slightly fewer but longer trains, managers told the board. WMATA currently operates 19 six-car trains during morning rush hour; during the test, the agency will run 11 six-car and six eight-car trains.
“This will mean a faster and smoother trip for passengers because we’ll be reducing the bottleneck situation that exists now,” said Jim Hughes, WMATA’s acting assistant general manager of operations.
Now, 29 trains from the Orange and Blue lines have to pass through the same portal at Rosslyn Station, but only 26 pass through the station on time. During the test, WMATA will operate 27 trains through the portal.
If the test is successful, managers will add longer trains on other lines.
WMATA also plans to upgrade power so it can operate more eight-car trains system-wide. By next December, the authority expects to operate the longer trains on 20 percent of its system.