Train cars will start rolling on a portion of the Silver Line’s Phase II track starting early Wednesday morning.
The testing, which will begin between Innovation Station and Dulles Airport, marks a significant milestone in the project and marks the beginning of a months-long testing period. The full system is expected to come on line next year.
The first trains to roll along the tracks are expected around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Two two-car trains will be used to polish the third rail, which carries the electric current that powers Metro trains, from the Innovation Center Station through Dulles Airport to the end of the aerial guideway west of the airport property. The work will remove rust that can accumulate on rails that are not frequently used. The third rail will not be electrified during this portion of the test and the trains will be pushed by a diesel locomotive.
After the trains are in place at Innovation, the third rail will be electrified between Innovation Center Station and Dulles Airport, where trains will be used to remove accumulated rust from the third rail in that area.
Project officials warn that the entire track is a “live track,” which could be carrying electric current.
When this work is complete, two additional trains equipped for safe-braking tests will be brought in, beginning the “dynamic testing” process that is required before the rail line begins commercial operation.