Wednesday, October 02, 2013

METRORail One Step Closer To Red Line Extension Opening

In my last transit post about the status of the METRORail Red Line's North Line Extension, it was ahead of schedule construction wise and the initial unpowered train clearance tests were being run on the completed 5.3 mile extension section of the original 7.5 mile light rail line along Main Street that opened for business in 2004.

Another series of unpowered train clearance test runs were conducted August 26-29 in addition to electrical power line testing and checking the overhead catenary power wires on both sets of tracks be fore the powered rail car testing took place last month.

The station art is being installed on the eight new stations on the North Line extension along with the landscaping along that route.  

Photo: Look what's rail maps with 8 extra dots. Those represent the new North Line stations. We're just a few months away from the big launch! #METRONorthLineProgressWhile that was going on, the badly needed 19 additional Siemens rail cars METRO purchased from Utah arrived in December 2012 and have been added to beefed up regular service with the original 18 Siemens cars on the Main Street Line.  METRO also took bids in February 2011 on an additional 39 cars with options to buy more. 

Since light rail service started in January 2004, METRORail to the disgust of the knuckle dragging mass transit naysayers has passed the 100 million boardings mark four years earlier than projections.

Since METRO apparently has had no issues with either the unpowered or powered train test runs and electrical testing, it seems that all systems are go for a December revenue service launch on the North Line extension.  The Green and Purple Lines construction, especially around the University of Houston has ramped up along with construction of the stations along it. 

News_METRO_Central Station renderings_January 2012_SHoP ArchitectsThe Green and Purple Lines, which run from downtown near the Theater District to the East End and Southeast are projected to enter service sometime in the second quarter of 2014.

I noted yesterday when I took the train from the Downtown Transit Center station to the Wheeler Station the new Red Line signs had been installed showing the North Line extension, its eight stations, and the soon to be constructed Central Station where the Downtown Purple and Green Lines cross the Red Line on Capitol and Rusk Streets between the Main Street Square and Preston Stations and will act as the transfer point between the rail lines .

Central Station's design will be selected from a competition in which 70 internationally renowned architectural firms were pared down to five finalists who hoped after their presentations their futuristic designs would become the signature station of the METRORail system.   .  

Still haven't found out as of yet which of the five designs won the competition, but this is the one I like from SHoP Architects of New York.   Then again, I'm not on the board making the final decision for it either. 

Can't wait for all the new lines to open.  With the North Line being the first of the three, it'll give me an excuse to go check out Northline Mall. .

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