Metro expansion excites commuters
The latest expansion to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County’s light rail system moves ever closer, as testing is underway on the system’s two upcoming expansions: the Southeast Line, which stops at UH, and the East End Line.
“Before the trains are fit for commercial use, every aspect of the lines needs to be extensively tested,” said Roberto Trevino, Metro’s vice president of engineering and capital projects. “The power substations and overhead rails providing power to the trains are one thing. The power system is tied into signal lights, and the communication system needs to work over every foot. System integration is very important.”
Trevino explained that only after the hardware of a section of track has been thoroughly tested will Metro will test the trains themselves on the lines. The physical tests consist of a diesel-powered engine pulling one of the train cars, ensuring that obstacles are far enough away from the track to not cause issues and that signs are as visible as needed. The train’s horn and a police escort are used to ensure public safety during these tests.
“In addition to the logistics, the tests ensure the trains are completely field-ready,” Trevino said. “It’s also a necessary step for the safety certification.”
Both new rail lines originate from the city’s Theater District. The East End line, also known as the Green Line, is 3.3. miles and runs past BBVA Compass Stadium and through the Second Ward, ending at Magnolia Park Transit Center. The Southeast Line, also known as the Purple Line, is 6.6 miles runs alongside the Green Line until it reaches BBVA Compass Stadium, after which it runs through the Third Ward with two stops at the University, ending on Griggs Street.
“I appreciate everything it’s supposed to be about, bringing the city together and making life easier for commuters,” said political science freshman Logan Mericle. “I’ll just be glad when it’s actually up and running.”
The trains were tested along the Southeast Line for the first time on Feb. 5.
“I think it’s great for someone like me who commutes to school. It gives me the option to park somewhere else and ride the rail to school,” said corporate communications junior Sam Huynh.
The Green and Purple Lines are set to open in Fall 2014.