LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — CapMetro and local government officials celebrated the opening of a second rail track at CapMetro’s Leander station on Wednesday, the first completed work of Project Connect and a step towards stronger regional transit around Austin.

A Metro Rail train sits at the Leander station, across the platform from a second rail track. (KXAN Photos/Cora Neas)

The station, sitting on the corner of W Metro Drive and North US-183, sits at the end of CapMetro’s Red Line. Since 2010, the station only had one track, a limitation that Leander Mayor Christine DeLisle said has led to service delays.

“The double tracking gives so much more reliability and predictability to the service,” DeLisle said. “So we shouldn’t see the sorts of slowdowns and disruptions that we’ve seen in the past.”

“Double tracking” gives train operators an additional track at each station, greatly increasing the frequency with which the trains can arrive.

The Red Line runs from Leander to downtown Austin at the CapMetro station, located in the 200 block of E 4th Street.

“I feel like not only is CapMetro growing, Leander is growing,” DeLisle said. “It’s been very symbiotic, and I think having this expansion start here in Leander is a testament to how strong that partnership has become over the last several years.”

Additional projects will further increase rail capacity along the Metro Rail line, said Veronica Castro de Barrera, the chair of Austin Transit Partnership’s board of directors.

“The program is vast, it includes Metro Rapid, which is our high frequency bus routes. Also, it includes the addition of light rail lines,” Castro de Barrera said. “So there’s vast layers of the program that are going to be there, already under design, but they’re all going to come at different phases.”

“Congratulations to Leander, because I know that we have a large population here that works downtown,” Castro de Barrera added. “This is part of the investments regionally, and we like to think of the systems of mobility more for the region and not just Austin.”

DeLisle is also excited to see her town become “more regional” — she claims that many Leander residents work in downtown Austin, and the Metro Rail offers them an easier commute.

“Public transit is so underrated in Texas as a whole,” DeLisle said. “Having these high profile projects is great for the public, to remind [them] that transit exists, and we can have it here. This is the future of Texas; you want people off of I-35, you’ve got to improve your transit systems.”