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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

WMATA tests for stray electrical current on Red Line segment

Trains pass through the Farragut West Station on the Orange and Blue Lines.
Photo – WMATA/Larry Levine

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) last weekend carried out a test for stray electrical current along a segment of the Red Line in downtown Washington, D.C.

Wayward electrical current caused three service disruptions along that segment in April, WMATA officials said in a press release.

The most recent incident, which occurred April 27, forced the agency to suspend Red Line service between the Dupont Circle and Gallery Place stations during the morning rush hour.

The testing involved removing all third-rail power, cutting sections of the running rail, running electrical current through a short section of rail and using voltage detectors to find locations where current is leaking, according to WMATA.

The tests were performed by an outside third-party specialist with assistance from WMATA's track and electrical crews.

Historically, comprehensive stray current testing hasn't been done on WMATA's rail system because it requires more time than the system's service hours allow.

However the agency's new system hours that take affect in late June will allow for a comprehensive preventive maintenance program that includes routine testing for stray current.

Meanwhile, WMATA on Friday announced plans to begin its final two repair surges as part of its SafeTrack maintenance plan.

The work will start May 16 on the Orange Line and wrap up June 15. Upon completion of that effort, WMATA will kick off its final SafeTrack surge on the Red Line.

To date, WMATA has replaced almost 35,000 cross ties, more than 21,000 fasteners and more than 41,000 linear feet of rail as part of SafeTrack.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/1/2017