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Resolved: WMATA outlines plans for 2003


The new year’s going to be a busy one for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) Metrorail, which plans to expand yards and passenger stations, reinvigorate its rail-car fleet and implement new security measures despite budget constraints.

In early 2003, WMATA plans to open its new $132 million Branch Avenue rail yard in Prince George's County, Md. The yard will feature storage tracks for 178 rail cars and a rail-car wash maintenance facility. In spring, the agency also will open an expanded entrance at the Mount Vernon Square/Convention Center Station; the entrance will feature new fare gates, four street-level escalators and two new street level elevators.

WMATA also expects to award contracts to expand New Carrollton rail yard facility, and to begin access improvements to the Ballston-MU Metrorail station. And the agency will continue building the Red Line New York Avenue Metrorail station, and extending its Blue Line to Largo. Both projects are expected to be completed by 2004's end. The agency also will continue work to complete above-and-below-ground infrastructure enhancements for its fully integrated 490MHz Comprehensive Radio Communications System.

With respect to rolling stock, WMATA will continue taking delivery of its new series 5000 rail cars. The cars, which came on line in August 2001, now are operating on the Green, Orange and Blue lines. To date, the agency has accepted 96 cars, and expects to have the entire 192-new-car fleet in service by summer — which would enable Metrorail to run all six-car trains during peak periods. WMATA also plans to reintroduce into service its first rehabilitated series 2000/3000 BREDA cars; in 2001, the agency awarded a contract to Alstom Transportation Inc. to rehab 364 cars.

As part of an ongoing effort to improve safety and security, WMATA also plans to add 10 police officers to its force in order to increase coverage and visibility at core transfer stations, and provide personal protective equipment and training for 5,000 front-line operating-department employees. The agency also plans to install programmable intrusion equipment to alert police of the exact location of any unauthorized intrusion into the system, and intrusion detection alarms at rail maintenance facilities.

In the meantime WMATA's executive staff and board expect to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make up for a $48 million shortfall within the projected FY2004 annual budget, and a $275 million shortfall in its six-year Infrastructure Renewal Program beginning in FY2006. WMATA officials also hope to devise a plan to secure $625 million for the purchase of an additional 120 new rail cars and the necessary support systems, which would enable Metrorail to operate eight-car trains.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/27/2002