DC Metro to conduct first Silver Line test

DC Metro to conduct first Silver Line test
© file photo

The agency that operates the Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway system is planning to conduct its first test of its new Silver Line extension this weekend. 

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said it will simulate an emergency responsive situation at the final station of the new railway in Reston, Va., on Saturday. 

The D.C. transit agency this week took control of the Silver Line from contractors who built it after a series of delays that have pushed back the railway’s opening for more than a year. 

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The agency said the emergency simulation is the first step in its progression toward opening the Silver Line for passengers, which officials have said will likely occur this summer. 

“Metro Transit Police, together with local jurisdictions and law-enforcement partners, will conduct a security exercise on Sunday, June 1 at the Wiehle-Reston East Station to test response from multiple agencies to an emergency scenario on the new Silver Line,” the agency said in a statement. 

“The goal of the exercise is to build coordination and provide an opportunity to practice unified command in preparation for the opening of the Silver Line, which includes a number of jurisdictions who share responsibility for the areas surrounding the five new Metrorail stations,” the statement continued. 

The Silver Line is one of the largest public transportation projects currently under construction in the U.S. The line is being built in part with $900 million in money that was received from the federal government. 

The first phase of the new railway was originally scheduled to open in December 2013, but the line has been delayed repeatedly as construction problems mounted.  The Silver Line is being built by the agency that operates Dulles International Airport, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), because it is designed in part to connect the airport to the capital area transit system.  

Metro officials are scheduled to operate the new railway. The transit agency has not yet identified a specific opening date, but the agency has said since construction of the Silver Line began that it would take about 90 days to conduct safety tests.  

Once the Silver Line is opened to passengers, trains will run from Prince George's County, Md., through Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., before they branch off of Metro's existing Orange Line and run through Tysons Corner, Va. The first phase of the Silver Line is scheduled to terminate in Reston, Va., which is about 5 miles short of Dulles airport. 

The second phase of the Silver Line, which is scheduled to include the stop at Dulles, is not set to open until 2018. Construction on the second phase of the new Metro line is expected to begin this summer.