Washington Metro to Install More Red Platform Edge Lights

WASHINGTON — It’s going to get a lot easier for Metrorail riders to know when the next train is arriving. The transit authority is installing new red platform edge lights at the Fort Totten, L’Enfant Plaza, Metro Center, Smithsonian, Union Station, Stadium-Armory and Eisenhower Avenue Metrorail stations during the next several weeks.

In late February, Metro installed new red LED (light-emitting diode) platform edge lights on the Red Line platform at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station as part of a pilot program.

“As we continue the next phase of installation of the new LED lights, we hope our customers will take note of the red platform edge lights and step away from the edge of the platform when an oncoming train is expected,” said John Catoe, Metro’s General Manager. “When they see the red lights, I’ve observed that customers stop, and keep a safer distance from the edge of the platform.”

Each lamp contains 34 LED bulbs and consumes approximately 10 watts of power and is estimated to last 10 to 12 years. The bulb burns steady at 50 percent power and flashes at 100 percent power when a train approaches or is at the station.

“We wanted to find a technology that would lower our maintenance costs and reduce the number of times we must take a track out of service to install the platform edge lights,” said David Knights, General Superintendent of Track and Structures and Systems Maintenance. “Another benefit is reducing energy consumption which has a direct benefit of lower electricity costs for the authority.”

It costs the transit authority up to $400,000 annually to relamp and power the existing incandescent platform edge lights. If the pilot program is successful, the transit authority could save up to $100,000 annually using the new red LEDs.

Each red LED bulb or lamp costs $63 and the traditional white ones cost $108 a piece.

Last month, Metro expanded its lighting program and installed new LED lights over the mezzanine at the Foggy Bottom Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. If successful, Metro will seek to add new LED lights on the platforms of several stations.

Last year, as part of a comprehensive lighting initiative, Metro employees started replacing burned out light bulbs in stations within two weeks, instead of nearly three months. All lights are cleaned, inspected, replaced and repaired every 10 months, instead of annually, and brighter light bulbs are installed on top of pylons.

It takes more than 269,000 bulbs, lamps and tubes and costs up to $11 million a year to light the Metro system, including stations, parking garages, bus garages and rail yards. Metro is currently focusing its stepped up lighting efforts on rail stations, which have more than 73,836 lights.

— Special to Railfanning.org News Wire