The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission has approved Metro’s full use of Auto Door mode on the Red Line.
The approval comes after weeks of certifying operators to use Automatic Door Operation on some Red Line trains.
Riders can expect quicker entries and exits on Red Line trains, with doors opening within 3-5 seconds after the train stops at the station platform. This could save around 10-15 seconds per stop, as per a Metro news release.
“Auto Doors will allow customers to exit trains faster to catch a connecting train or bus, or quickly reach escalators and elevators to leave the station and be on their way,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. “In addition to the convenience customers will experience, Auto Doors is also safer, reducing the opportunity for human error and wrong-side door openings.”
Although train doors will open automatically, operators will still manually close them. Auto Doors are managed by existing onboard technology, ensuring that trains are safely stopped at the platform before the doors open. Before departure, operators will manually close the doors after checking outside the driver’s side cab window to ensure the platform is clear.
The reinstatement of Auto Doors on the Red Line follows the successful completion of over 2,500 automatic door-opening tests, along with additional training and certification for Red Line train operators to operate in Auto Doors mode.
While the Red Line is the first to reintroduce Auto Doors, other lines may also see this technology in the future. Metro says that the agency is currently conducting Auto Door tests on the Blue, Orange, Silver, Green, and Yellow lines, and will collaborate with the WMSC to implement Auto Doors systemwide.
Metro says that the upgrade and restoration of Auto Doors technology will allow the agency to safely automate 20,000 daily door openings across the entire system.
The Auto Doors announcement comes as Metro is preparing to shut down four Red Line stations for critical safety repairs later this month.
The work will take place between Dupont Circle and Gallery Place from Monday, Dec. 18 to Saturday, Dec. 30. Farragut North and Metro Center (upper level) will be closed. During Dec. 22-24, there will be no Red Line service between Dupont Circle and Union Station. Judiciary Square Station will also be closed, and Red Line service will be unavailable at Gallery Place.
Additionally, the Gallery Place entrance at Ninth & G streets NW will be closed.
The repairs will address a deteriorated concrete ceiling above both tracks, dating back to the Metro system’s earliest days. Workers will install 40,000 feet of fiber optic cable and conduct repairs, such as fixing leaks and installing insulators between the electrified third rail and the ground. Metro aims to complete the work efficiently during a period of historically lower ridership to minimize the impact on customers.
Outside of the work zone, Red Line trains will arrive every 8-10 minutes, with normal service frequencies on all other lines.
Metro says that ridership is typically 40% lower at this time. Completing the work with the Red Line out of service at a small number of stations will expedite the work and minimize the impact on customers. In just two weeks, Metro crews will accomplish what would normally take three months if done on weekends.
More information and travel alternatives are available on Metro’s website.
Photo: “WMATA 7000 series Red Line train at Twinbrook 2023-01-07” by John Brighenti is licensed under CC BY 2.0.