AUSTIN (KXAN) — Approximately 34 minutes is the average time you have to wait to catch a ride on Austin’s MetroRail. Capital Metro wants to improve that time by installing additional track lines.
“Right now our trains only have two places where they can pass one another other, which is what limits us,” says Sam Sergent with Capital Metro.
Double-tracking allows trains to pass one another without having to wait for a clearing. It is already in place at the Kramer Lane and MLK Stations, but that’ll change this year. With money from a federal grant, additional track lines will be built at three more locations: Lakeline, Howard and Crestview Stations.
“Longterm we can get our frequencies down to 15 minutes and maybe even below that,” explains Sargent, who says wait times will be cut nearly in half.
Construction on double tracking has already started at the Lakeline Station and then will be followed by the Howard Station.
Sargent says safety is a top concern for the agency. Positive Train Control will be required on all of their rail cars, plus on the tracks. Positive Train Control is a safety backup system designed to automatically stop a train before certain crashes occur, such as train-to-train crashes.
Positive train control legislation was spurred by an incident in 2008 in Southern California when a commuter train and a freight train collided. Last year, CapMetro received a federal grant of nearly $10 million to fund building positive train control systems along the MetroRail corridor. Positive train control will be installed by the end of the year.