- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2005


Metro yesterday began testing an eight-car train on the Red Line in another step to ease overcrowding on the busy transit system.

The agency wants to ensure the train stops at the correct location, because at 600 feet it is exactly as long as station platforms. With an average of about 700,000 subway riders a day, Metro hopes to have eight-car trains rolling for real by the end of 2006.

A lengthened train was operated manually and carried passengers from 5 to 9 a.m., then continued to run on automatic mode without passengers until 1 p.m. yesterday. Testing will continue for the next few weeks along a similar schedule, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

“Everything seemed to go fine with day one, but this is just a single day of testing,” Mr. Taubenkibel said. “We’ve got to go through a lot of analysis.”

The tests allow officials to evaluate new software designed to make the braking mechanism more precise. Currently, trains are able to stop within six feet of their target. New software would cut that margin in half — which is necessary if the transit agency wants to use 600-foot trains, said Jim Hughes, Metro’s acting assistant general manager for operations.

In automatic mode, marker coils spaced out along the track bed indicate to trains when to brake, allowing them to slow smoothly to a stop. The coils must be spaced correctly to help trains line up with station platforms.

No delays are expected as a result of the testing.

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