Capital MetroRail Update

Yesterday at the Capital Metro Board meeting, Executive Vice President Doug Allen presented an update on MetroRail progress. Capital Metro and Veolia have made significant headway to ready the Red Line for passengers.

* The agency has received the official waiver letter from the Federal Railroad Administration that allows Capital Metro to operate the system when all the components are ready.
* Train engineers have been certified on the operation of MetroRail vehicles, and dispatchers have been certified on the use of the Centralized Traffic Control system.
* Veolia has hired a new safety director, Randy Jamieson, with extensive experience in freight and passenger rail operations.
* Capital Metro has completed a comprehensive inspection of rail system components along the entire 32-mile line.

Doug also outlined the “critical path” to startup, as visualized in this chart.

The agency is working with the city to complete the installation and testing of signal preemption technology that will synchronize rail and traffic signals at several major intersections. In addition, Capital Metro is working to improve shunting, which controls the timing of the crossing arms and the ability of rail dispatchers to monitor trains along the system. Both shunting and signal preemption are key components to the successful operation of Capital MetroRail.

12 thoughts on “Capital MetroRail Update

  1. LG

    Thank you for the update, it seems y’all are making good progress. Is there anyway you could put a timeline of dates to that flow chart above?

  2. Prosso

    Thanks for the update! Maybe this has been addressed elsewhere, but what caused the long-term delay? I’m unclear as to how the project went from imminent opening to a TBD start date.

  3. Life. Complicated.

    What is the estimate to complete the shunting issues? Also, will the Operators go through another complete 45 days of Pre-Revenue Service? What if issues are found as they were during the last Pre-Revenue Period, will it be put on hold indefinetaly again?

  4. Erica McKewen

    I don’t have a time estimate for the correction of the shunting problems that have been experienced at some points along the line. Crews have been out with heavy equipment grinding the rust off the rail this week and last weekend. That process should improve the shunting, but we don’t know yet if it will solve it completely. Since each remaining stage or milestone (as shown on the chart) is dependent on the one above it, it is difficult to include a time frame for each item, at least not if you want to be accurate about it.

    One thing that I would like to point out is that we most likely won’t be able to announce a new start date at the same time we report MetroRail’s status to the community (by May 15). Most people have assumed that Capital Metro will announce a start date on May 15. Since we want to be 100 percent confident in the date, we need to systematically rule out any and all potential issues first–it’s likely they won’t be completely ironed out by the time of the report.

  5. Life. Complicated.

    Thanks Erica! Do you know if once all the issues are resolved, will another 45 days of PreRevenue Service need to happen?

  6. Erica McKewen

    There will be an extensive testing period (pre-revenue service) but there isn’t a predetermined amount of time allotted for it this time around. If any issues are discovered, of course the testing period will likely expand.

  7. vindobonensis

    Erica, I have one question. Since it looks like they delay will be several months from the scheduled opening date of March 30, has anyone at CM seriously considered in the weeks leading up to scheduled opening that service would actually be starting March 30, or was it internally known that these problems exist which would cause an additional multi-month delay? I’m asking on behalf of the many volunteers that CM had recruited and trained mid-March to help with the start of service; I want to make sure their time was not knowingly wasted. (Just for the record, I enjoyed the training anyway and will participate again, should you need volunteers in the future.)

  8. Erica McKewen

    vin–Thank you for volunteering! We will definitely still have lots of opportunities for volunteers and I hope you will be able to join us in helping people get to know MetroRail once it’s up. Even though it’s delayed, MetroRail *is* still a major big deal for Austin. I personally am looking forward to participating in all the festivities and such. We hope the volunteers who signed up with us will still be able to help once we have a revised timeline/date.

    Regarding the delay, it’s a fair question. Internally, no, we didn’t know well in advance about the delay. From my perspective, we all understood there were big challenges to overcome in order to start service on March 30, but everyone was very focused on meeting that date, even if we had to offer a scaled-back, limited service at first.

    Because the agency did decide to delay, after the safety violations, we had a second opportunity to get everything 100% ready to go before startup, and that is the preferred method.

  9. BC in Cedar Park Town Center

    Erica, (or other Cap Metrorail rep). I dont know where else to put this. It took me over an hour of net surfing to find this after no luck in finding a phone number or an email address for Cap Metrorail, Cap Metro, Austin Light rail…etc…about 30 different searches.

    Is there a phone number or an email address that I can contact about a rail problem? The tracks near my home appear to have a broken weld in one spot… the cars come by, I can hear a loud “Clack, Clack” when they cross this one section. I have read tha the rails were welded up…so I am guessing that there is a broken weld joint at that spot.

    BC in Cedar Park

  10. Misty Whited


    I’ll forward that information to the rail department. In the future, you can contact Customer Service at 474-1200 and they will pass it along to the appropriate staff. Thanks.

  11. Misty Whited


    Can you contact me by phone so that I can get more information from you regarding the broken joint? My number is 389-7572. Thanks.

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