Capital Metro is taking an exciting step on its way toward doubling both the capacity and frequency of MetroRail service. This week, we received shipment of two new trains from the manufacturer in Switzerland!
The trains were loaded onto a barge in the city of Bussnang in February for a one-month journey to Galveston, arriving last week. From there, they began their journey to Austin on six 90-foot trucks, with three additional escort vehicles. The caravan arrived in Austin around lunchtime today and was escorted by Metro Security and the Austin Police Department to our railyard in North Austin. The trains were unloaded and assembled onto the tracks.
The trains will go through a five to six-month testing period before being integrated into the MetroRail fleet, and will be instrumental in helping to increase capacity and frequency once other rail improvements are complete. Like the refurbishment of our existing train compartments, the arrival of the trains marks another important milestone in our planned enhancements to MetroRail service.
Over the next year, we will add double tracking to the 32-mile MetroRail Red Line so that trains can pass in more places. Currently, there are just two rail stations — MLK and Kramer — that have tracks on either side of the platforms, which allows both northbound and southbound trains to operate at once. When double tracking is added in other spots along the route, we’ll be able to operate the Red Line more frequently. Eventually, trains will run every 15 minutes during peak times, instead of every 30 minutes. In addition, signal improvements are also planned throughout the line to ensure safety remains our top priority.
Great things continue to happen at Capital Metro for our customers!
Click the link to the right for additional info!
Q: How’d you pay for all these new trains?
A: We obtained a grant from TxDOT in 2014 to purchase four new trains. Two arrived this week and two more will arrive in April.
Q: Why’d you go all the way to Switzerland to get the trains?
A: There are no U.S. manufacturers that make this type of train.
Q: What happens after the testing period?
After testing, the new trains will be integrated into the rotation of our MetroRail trains. Currently, we have six of those, with four or five running at most times and one or two out of rotation for maintenance. This will add four more to the rotation.
Q: After the testing period, will we be able to take the train late into the night during the week, not to mention on Sundays?
A: MetroRail service is not scheduled to change at this time. Our budget provides for service from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. most days and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. In future years, there may be more service hours budgeted for, but not quite yet.
Q: What does increased frequency and capacity mean?
A: Currently, MetroRail operates at 30-minute frequencies and carries 400 riders per hour. When the rail improvements are done by the end of 2018, we will be able to increase capacity of the service. Once our new Downtown Station is complete in a few years, MetroRail will operate at 15-minute frequencies and carry 800 riders per hour.
Q: What’s that about Downtown Station? You’re doing something with that too, right?
A: Yes, we are, but that’s a separate project with a separate time frame. You can find out more information about that on our Downtown Station page.