Metro Riders may have noticed that trains are traveling slower. The WMTA is requiring operators to run trains at slower speeds on parts of the rail system.On August 10, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority issued a Temporary Order which requires Metro trains to be operated at speeds no greater than 35 miles per hour between the Medical Center and Union Station stops on the Red Line. The order also requires the same speed limitation on the Orange, Silver, and Blue Lines between the Rosslyn and Minnesota Avenue/Benning Road stations. The order will be effective until August 2018. Metro riders who use the Red Line will be most affected by the slowdowns; the Orange, Silver, and Blue Line stops that are now speed-restricted are spaced close together, and trains already hardly ever travel faster than 35 miles per hour on that stretch.
Speed restrictions generally are issued when equipment and tracks are degraded, worn, and in desperate need of repair. Since last year, other speed restrictions have been issued throughout the Metro Rail system due to the presence of rotten rail ties, cracked rail joints, worn concrete, defective studs, and broken fasteners that are a safety hazard and can potentially cause further derailments. The restrictions on other parts of the rail system are no longer in place, however, last year’s speed restrictions made Metro’s ability to deliver customers on time fall from a 74 percent efficiency rate to a 64 percent rate. Commuters who use the Red Line should expect slower service, and the restriction requires that operators run their trains on set schedules as opposed to proximity to the train ahead. The temporary order may mean that operators will be forced to close train doors sooner than before and schedules may be altered.