Silver Line Testing to Be Done Overnight Saturday, Opening Date 'Any Month Now'

Testing to be along Silver Line tracks overnight Saturday, Jan. 25.

Testing on the Silver Line will begin overnight Saturday, Jan. 25.
Testing on the Silver Line will begin overnight Saturday, Jan. 25.
Update: Here's what officials had to say about the testing. 

Editor's note: The text below has been amended to clarify the nature of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, as well as the timeline following last weekend's testing. 

Scheduled testing along Phase One of the Silver Line will take place this weekend, the next step forward to eventually opening the 11.5-mile line within the next several months. 

Trains will be running along Silver Line tracks from East Falls Church to the Wiehle Avenue station overnight Saturday, Jan. 25 said Dulles Metro spokesperson Marcia McAllister. 

The tests, which will be conducted by the contractor building the rail, will likely involve up to 10 eight-car train sets. 

The construction of Phase One is at 99 percent completion. Patty Nicoson, president of Dulles Corridor Rail Association President, an advocacy group, said she's hoping for an opening "any month now."

"With [Saturday's] test of the system, the Airports Authority will have 15 days to ask them to go back and tweak a few things, look at some other things, the idea being after that 15 day period they would be substantially complete and would turn it over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority," she said. "They in turn have 90 days in which to review it."

The 15 day period will begin once all the data from the weekend's testing has been recorded. 

Nicoson expressed hope that the full 90 days wouldn't be needed by WMATA. 

"They have been participating in the testing all along, so a lot of it they're going to accept as things they would have done themselves," she said. "But they do have to train their operators and emergency personnel and get used to the equipment."

Construction on Phase Two, which will run west from Wiehle Avenue to stops in Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Dulles Airport and Ashburn, is expected to begin soon. Nicoson said they're currently doing geotechnical work. 

"I've been told construction will start at the Airport and probably work out from both ends," she said.  

Phase Two is expected to reach substantial completion by mid-2018, with full operations starting by the end of 2018. 

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Catherine January 25, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Union boondoggle? This is a right to work state. I believe the hold up was mostly the lack of funding from Richmond and that's not exactly a leftist hotspot. Now that we're down to the wire there are going to be some glitches. Would ypu rather they open without the testing? Who does that. Anyway, I'm still pretty sure unions aren't the cause.
Rob Whitfield January 26, 2014 at 09:25 PM
The lack of funding from Richmond has not been the problem. Governor Tim Kaine, without consulting with the General Assembly, subjecting the financial plan for Dulles Rail to a public hearing or referendum or even making public any financial plan gave away the Dulles Toll Road and its revenue stream valued at $3.52 billion to MWAA for $0.00 in 2008. Dulles Rail financial problems are a long way from over. MWAA has yet to obtain approval from airlines at Reagan National and the FAA for a proposed Passenger Facility Charge of $4.50 per passenger needed for the next twenty plus years to pay its Airport User revenue share of 4.1% of total rail capital costs. Due to massive construction cost overruns for the Aerotrain underground people mover project at Dulles, the PFCs at Dulles are committed until 2037 to help repay capital costs. Completion of the Aerotrain project is likely a decade away as airport and airline per passenger costs at Dulles are vastly greater than at Reagan National and BWI. As a result of pending slot sales at Reagan ordered by the US Justice Department under the merger agreement for American Airlines and US Airways, MWAA expects passenger traffic at Regan to increase by about 2 million passengers annually from the current 20 million level over the next two years. Domestic passenger traffic at Dulles, which declined by 900,000 passengers in 2013, is expected to decline by up to 2 million passengers annually during the next two years. Total volume of passengers handled at Dulles peaked in 1995 at 27 million. Following cessation of Independence Air operations in January 2006, domestic passenger traffic at Dulles has declined. As yet, MWAA has not made public any plan to deal with the deteriorating domestic passenger situation at Dulles.
Rob Whitfield January 26, 2014 at 11:56 PM
CORRECTION Should have said air traffic at Dulles peaked in 2005.
Rob Whitfield January 27, 2014 at 12:02 AM
SECOND CORRECTION Domestic passenger decline of up to 1 million annually estimated by MWAA in each of next two years.
Sean Scully January 27, 2014 at 03:20 PM
I didn't realize that Dulles only does 3 million more passengers (20%) than Reagan, and based on your data they are on pass to be on par shortly. My experience with the lines at Dulles compared to Reagan I would have guessed IAD did twice as many passengers as DCA.


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