Capital Metro is making headway on its path toward doubling both the capacity and frequency of MetroRail service. In the spring of 2017, we received shipment of 2 new trains from the manufacturer in Switzerland.
The trains went through a five- to six-month testing period before being integrated into the MetroRail fleet, and they will be instrumental in helping to double capacity and frequency once other rail improvements are complete, like the refurbishment of our existing train compartments and the construction of a new Downtown Station.
After testing, the new trains were integrated into the rotation of our MetroRail trains. Before January, we had 6 of those, with 4 or 5 running at most times and 1 or 2 in reserve or in maintenance. This added 2 more to the rotation. The new trains were paid for with a grant from TxDOT in 2014.
Over the next year, we will complete the addition of double tracking to the 32-mile MetroRail Red Line so that trains can pass in more places. Currently, there are just 2 rail stations - MLK and Kramer - that have tracks on either side of the platforms, which allows both northbound and southbound trains to operate at once. Additionally, signal improvements will be installed throughout the line to ensure safety remains our top priority.
Typically, MetroRail operates at roughly 30-minute frequencies and carries 400 riders per hour. With the new trains, we were able to pair MetroRail trips so that two trains could follow together, adding capacity and more room for crowded rush hour riders. When the rail improvements are done by the end of the year, we will be able to increase capacity of the service. Once the new Downtown Station is complete in a few years, MetroRail will operate at 15-minute frequencies and carry 800 riders per hour.