Capital MetroRail Update

The Capital MetroRail system will begin service on March 30, 2009. Here’s the latest rail update from Capital Metro President/CEO Fred Gilliam.

Happy New Year. Capital Metro looks forward to beginning a prosperous new year with the opening of Capital MetroRail service. From the 2004 creation of All Systems Go to the 2006 Rail Design Open Houses and now to the preparation of launching Capital MetroRail, we have come a long way in preparing to open the first passenger rail system in central Texas. Of course, we could not have gotten this far without successful community collaboration and support.

We expect to begin service on our 32-mile passenger rail line between downtown Austin and Leander on March 30, 2009. We are working diligently to deliver on our promise to build and operate a safe, reliable and high quality rail system for central Texas.

Below you will find updates on Capital MetroRail.

Station Construction

The ticket vending machines, security cameras and station signage installation has begun for the Downtown, Plaza Saltillo, Highland, Crestview, Lakeline and Leander Stations.

The MLK, Jr. platform is complete; however, the Bus Plaza is still under construction and expected to be complete in February. The Kramer Station west platform should be completed in February and the east platform will be completed in March. Howard Station is progressing as the station platform is nearly complete and the Park & Ride will be finished before the start of service in March.

Signal System and Track Work

The installation of the Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) signal system is complete and testing is now underway. The CTC system will allow dispatchers to see where every train is on the line at all times and manage all signals and switches.

There will be three new sections of track siding that are necessary for the trains to pass each other. The Leander siding is complete and the Kramer and Manor track sidings will be finished in February.

Freight Switch and MetroRail Testing

On February 7, Capital Metro plans to switch freight rail operations overnight between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. Between two to four trains will be traveling during this time.

For safety and noise reduction near residential areas, Capital Metro has installed quad gates at many railroad crossings between Leander and downtown Austin. These safety upgrades allow local municipalities to request quiet zones from the Federal Railroad Administration to permit trains to pass crossings without blowing their horns. This investment is part of Capital Metro’s commitment to safety and quality of life near the tracks.

Once freight has shifted to night, Capital Metro will begin an intensive 45-day testing period in which MetroRail trains will run during weekdays along the entire 32-mile line between Leander and downtown Austin. These “practice runs” will allow us to test the new signal system, finalize the rail schedule and train the MetroRail engineers. This testing is critically important to a successful opening as it allows us to identify and resolve any issues before we have passengers on board.

Open Houses and Grand Opening

We are planning some events in the coming months leading up to the opening in March. In February, Capital Metro will host five open houses at some of the stations to educate future customers on how to ride the MetroRail system. The grand opening celebration is currently being planned for the weekend prior to March 30. See the stories in the ASG Newsletter for more details about these events.

Thank you for your interest in Capital MetroRail. I always appreciate your feedback.

Fred Gilliam
Capital Metro

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