Test trains will keep running on the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, Virginia, after Metro sent a letter Monday signing off on continued trials.
Metro had asked for a pause in testing Sept. 12 over a new concern about parts of the tracks where trains switch from one track to another, but a pair of follow-up investigations found that this new issue does not pose a derailment risk to the test trains.
Allowing test trains to continue does not change Metro’s position on other problems with switches in the project; rock that supports the tracks in the new rail yard; and concrete panel issues that Metro is still demanding better fixes for and that will last for decades to come.
Work to fix the rock in the rail yard, known as the ballast, is ongoing. Concrete panels are getting new coats of sealant. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractors building the line are still trying to come up with a fix for the switch issues.
Though Metro has expressed significant concerns about whether the line will be ready in time and whether proper fixes will be made, the Airports Authority believes it remains possible to hand it over to Metro and open the line to riders next summer.
Metro’s Office of Inspector General expects to release a key report soon detailing what it sees as major risks to Metro if the agency accepts the project as is.