Silver Line Handed Over to Metro, Ready for Final Testing

Metrorail’s Silver Line extension into Loudoun County hit one of its final milestones early Thursday morning, as the six new rail stations, 11.4 miles of track and new rail yard were formally handed over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for final testing.

Before then, the long-delayed Silver Line Phase II project was in the hands of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which had agreed to build it. During a media availability after the Thursday morning WMATA Board of Directors meeting, Interim General Manager and CEO Andy Off said the closest estimate Metro can give for when service will begin is late fall.

Off said opening Silver Line Phase 2 is more complicated than the first phase thanks to the railyard. The last time Metro opened a new railyard, he pointed out, was more than 20 years ago, and noted the 90-acre size and 350 employees at the new railyard near Dulles Airport.

“There is a lot of movement. It is a dangerous place with a lot of employees and a lot of train movement,” he said. “And there’s just a lot of unique equipment that we use to maintain our rail cars. So there’s just a certain degree of time and training.”

And with construction enduring long delays—and commuting and working habits changed by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic—Board Chairman Paul Smedberg said he expects the system will be used differently today.

“It’s not going to be the Monday-through-Friday, nine-to-five, everyone going to the core, you know, or in the District,” he said. “There are still people that are going to do that maybe three or four days a week, but people are going to be using the system reverse commuting out. A lot of people who live in the District are now working out in Tysons, in Reston.”

The first phase of the Silver Line opened in July 2014, adding five new Metro stations, reaching to Wiehle-Reston East Station in Fairfax. The second phase connects Metro to Herndon, Dulles Airport, and two stops in Loudoun, with rails in the median of the Dulles Greenway.

Maryland and Virginia senators hailed the milestone in a joint statement, include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) who helped broker the deal with Metro, the airports authority, the state and local governments during his time as Virginia’s governor.

“Today’s news takes us one big step closer to our shared goal of ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is reliable, convenient, and capable of keeping up with the National Capital Region’s growth,” they wrote. “We welcome this development and encourage WMATA to safely and expeditiously put the finishing touches on this project so the Silver Line can fully open for customer service.”

6 thoughts on “Silver Line Handed Over to Metro, Ready for Final Testing

  • 2022-06-23 at 2:34 pm
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    Only the poor, desperate, and criminal ride Metro now. Ridership will never recover.

    • 2022-06-24 at 10:52 pm
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      Yep, this will be a colossal failure that only the BOS and developers who pushed for it will celebrate the opening. You have to be out of your mind to sit on a Metro train for an hour these days and with the type of management and maintenance Metro is known for. Good luck! Route 7 with no lights is just fine for me!!

  • 2022-06-23 at 3:40 pm
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    With this news, I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. What a marvelous day it will be when the Silver Line Extension is fully operational. It will be a feather in the cap of Loudoun County. Kudos to everyone who’s helping to make this dream a reality. Happy Pride Month Loudoun!

  • 2022-06-23 at 9:49 pm
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    This is not good news, it physically ties LoCo to the Washington Metro which is not a good thing. I will never step foot on this Metro. For one thing, why would I want to sit on a crowded Metro car for an hour or more. I will keep my nice car for my trip into DC. You have to be nuts to take Metro especially with Covid not dead. And I cannot fathom any tourist setting foot on Metro after a flight. No one is going to schlep bags on the small Metro cars after a long flight. LoCo was sold a bill of goods by BOS supes who were supported by the developers. It will be fun to stand back and watch this supposed “silver bullet” go pop, not bang.

  • 2022-06-25 at 11:00 am
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    Awesome!
    Only twenty something stops to get to Metro Center.

    Look at it this way… someone from Western Loudoun will have to enjoy battling through the very worst of Loudoun’s traffic on Rte 9 and/or Rte 7 to make their eventual way to the Ashburn station. Paying a ransom to the Aussies for their criminal enterprise a/k/a the Greenway.
    THEN wait for a train (which won’t be departing with high frequency) only to sit for god-knows-how-long to eventually get to sorta near their destination to the East. Maybe even get to enjoy a Metro Bus (blarf!) at the very end.

    And this bad joke cost us how much???
    Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a perpetual story from The Onion. Or The Simpsons.

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