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11/24/2003



Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA improves blizzard-battling readiness




Last February, an East Coast blizzard damaged Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) rail cars, which delayed service. This winter, authority officials are taking that experience to heart and have outlined new winter storm preparation guidelines.

As part of a coordinated effort to share information regionally in the event of a major snowstorm, WMATA plans to participate in Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments-led conference calls with regional leaders to coordinate services during a snowstorm.

The authority also would use the council’s Web-based snowstorm emergency assessment system to input rail and bus system status on a regular basis.

If snow falls measure eight inches or more, WMATA plans to implement underground rail service. Under the plan, the authority still could provide service to key areas, such as the Pentagon, Union Station and Congress Heights.

The plans would enable WMATA to store about 300 rail cars underground. About 50 cars would be needed to run the service at 20-minute to 30-minutes headways. The plan also would enable the authority to focus on removing snow along above-ground tracks, enabling WMATA to resume normal service within 48 hours of a storm, according to a prepared statement.



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