Repair shutdowns expected to be announced for Washington DC subway

Reuters News
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Posted: May 06, 2016 6:24 AM

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington's troubled Metro subway system, the second-busiest in the United States, is expected on Friday to announce extensive track work that will include partial shutdowns and slower service.

The wide-ranging maintenance and repair program comes after a scathing federal report on Monday into a deadly 2015 tunnel fire that exposed widespread safety lapses.

Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, is scheduled to make a maintenance announcement at 11 a.m.

The work is likely to cause widespread commuting headaches for Washington-area residents, including hundreds of thousands of federal employees. It also could snarl travel plans for the 20 million people who visit the U.S. capital every year.

Metro carries about 700,000 passengers on weekdays in serving Washington and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs.

Citing transit authority sources, WAMU 88.5 radio reported that work on the 40-year-old system may begin as early as June. A Metro spokesman had no immediate comment.

The program calls for sections of track covering two or three stations at a time to undergo single-tracking or closures during the work week, WAMU said.

In a memo obtained by WAMU, Wiedefeld told the Metro board on Wednesday that current maintenance on the two-track system was insufficient.

The report comes six weeks after the unprecedented one-day shutdown of Metro for emergency safety inspections.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)