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Rail News: Passenger Rail

New radio system brightens end of WMATA's communication tunnel


Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) last month agreed to a $60 million contract for Motorola Inc. to install a 490 MHz Comprehensive Radio Communications System for its police, bus, rail and maintenance departments.

In April, a tunnel electrical fire forced the evacuation of 273 passengers after a train became stranded between two stations. In the course of the incident’s investigation, WMATA officials determined radio communication among D.C. firefighters — and between firefighters and WMATA officials — was hindered by the system’s underground tunnels.

Motorola’s ASTRO® voice communications system would include a data communications system for bus and police, a wider area of communications coverage and additional operational flexibility.

The contract includes more than 3,000 ASTRO and Spectra™ mobile radios for bus and rail maintenance personnel; 1,900 XTS 3000™ portable radios for police, operations supervisors and maintenance personnel; 2,000 pagers for maintenance and operations personnel; and more than 50 mobile workstation terminals enabling transit police to access state and federal crime databases from motor vehicles. The system also includes 29 dispatch consoles.

Officials expect above- and below-ground testing to begin in spring; implementation would be complete by the end of 2002.