WASHINGTON — The Metrorail system will open on time Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7 a.m. and will operate train about 10 to 12 minutes apart this morning. Metrobuses and MetroAccess trips are experiencing major delays due to heavy snow on the area’s roads. Metrobus routes are limited to operating on snow emergency routes due to the poor road conditions.
Metrorail operates very close to a normal schedule in snowfall of up to six inches. However once snow reaches a depth of eight inches, it is difficult to operate trains because snow starts to cover the electrified third rail, which is necessary to provide electricity to power the trains.
As a result, Metro may suspend above-ground rail service and serve underground stations only when snow accumulation reaches eight inches or more. Suspending above-ground rail service also allows Metro to spare more rail cars from weather-related breakdowns, focus snow clearing operations on above-ground tracks and store a limited number of trains underground.
“We will monitor snowfall levels very closely and we will plan and react accordingly,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe. “It is very slow moving on the roads today, and understandably so. Customers should please dress warmly as waits for buses and trains will be longer than usual.”
The transit agency kept empty trains running across the outdoor tracks throughout the night to help keep snow from covering the tracks. Today customers will see trains equipped with de-icing equipment being used on all five lines. Twenty such trains are in service.