WMATA Planned and Unplanned Track Outages

Developing a playbook for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on DC's Metro system

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority | Washington, DC, USA | 2013-2014

In service since March 1976, Metro has expanded from one line to the second busiest heavy rail network in the US.

Leveraged TrainOps® software to optimize maintenance operations and reduce impact to ridership.

Created effective strategies to manage overcrowding issues per station during unplanned outages.


  • As ridership grew, WMATA needed to maximize the productivity of its maintenance staff and outside contractors, while minimizing disruption to service.
  • When unplanned outages occur, intense demand for rail service make emergency single-track operation challenging because of passenger volume.
  • WMATA needed to be able to efficiently mobilize maintenance operations without significantly impacting its approximately 182 million annual riders.


  • Collaborated with WMATA to develop a Rail Operations Construction Work Windows Playbook to optimize time and geographic range of track outages for construction and maintenance.
  • Used the proprietary simulation software, TrainOps®, to model train performance, infrastructure, and WMATA’s automatic train control system.
  • Developed operationally feasible work windows to close specified track operations for planned outages.
  • Outlined and compiled planned and unplanned outage strategies into a Red Line Rail Controller Playbook, with operational responses tailored to the capacity of each in-service, single-track segment between interlockings.


  • Used Work Windows Playbook scenarios to maximize operational reliability and minimize inconvenience to passengers during construction.
  • Utilized Rail Controller strategies to minimize overall Red Line customer travel time (optimizing passenger safety by reducing crowding on the platform) while maximizing system on-time performance.
  • Developed Rail Controller strategies to manage unplanned outages and maximize system on-time performance.
  • Scenarios include both alternating of trains in each direction and “fleeting” of trains (two at a time in each direction), increasing passenger-carrying capacity through the single-track section.

Project numbers

91 Metro stations
118 route-miles of track
50 miles of underground track
1,318 railcars

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