Tunnel ventilation updates to bring single-tracking to Red Line through end of August

An update to the ventilation systems of many Metro stations along the Red Line will bring single-tracking to large sections of the line through Aug. 31.

Metro said the work is necessary as the Red Line is the oldest section of D.C.’s rail system and needs to be brought in line with modern safety standards. The ventilation systems currently installed in stations between Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park stations were put in place in 1981, before the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) set safety standards for rail systems.

Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta told WTOP that the project brings much-needed upgrades to the stations.

“These are original to the construction of this part of the Red Line. And since it’s been built, safety standards, fire standards have changed and the original equipment is aging,” Jannetta said. “So this work is really necessary to modernize it and make sure that the tunnels are safe in the event of an emergency.”

The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) issued a directive to Metro to update stations’ ventilation systems after the 2015 smoke incident in L’Enfant Plaza that left one rider dead and sent dozens more to the hospital.

“Following the 2015 smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza, Metro worked with the NTSB to upgrade tunnel ventilation throughout the system,” Jannetta said. “This is just part of that continued effort to ensure that all of our ventilation system is up the current fire standard.”

Between July 17 and Aug. 31:

  • Continuous single-tracking between Dupont Circle and Van Ness-UDC.
  • Trains will operate every 18 minutes between Shady Grove and Glenmont.
  • Additional trains will operate between Glenmont and Farragut North from opening until 7 p.m. on weekdays only to provide more frequent service.
  • Customers may also wish to use Metrobus Route L2 which runs along Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Circle and Farragut Square as an alternative.

On the weekends of Aug. 7-8 and Aug. 28-29:

  • Red Line trains will operate in two segments:
    • Shady Grove to Van Ness-UDC
    • Dupont Circle to Glenmont
  • Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Dupont Circle and Van Ness-UDC stations.
  • Cleveland Park and Woodley Park stations will be closed.

As far as Metro service to sports games is concerned, stations will still close at midnight starting in September, even if a game runs long. Jannetta said the exception to this would be if a local team makes it into the playoffs. In that case, Metro will work with the teams to keep trains running later.

WTOP’s Thomas Robertson contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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