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last updated: 03-10-2010

Just like Laura Palmer, ticket kiosks and ticket validation machines are shown here, wrapped in plastic, on the occasion of Dr. F’s recent visit to the MetroRail’s MLK Jr. station.  Whether this new covering was for the protection of the fancy new machines from the elements or from vandalism, I cannot say. Last Summer’s brutal heat, sent the computers in the newly installed ticket machines, into a tizzy. Simultaneously, moisture was also a problem, as  “horizontal rains,” soaked the ticket machines temporarily disabling them. These and many other problems contributed to the delay in opening the Red line.

The weeds are all gone from last springs visit still, the rails are looking a bit rusty;  that should all soon change though, as a March opening is promised by Cap Metro for MetroRail’s Red Line.

Today we sent word to the Federal Railroad Administration…we expect to be operationally ready to begin service at the end of February.

Trains will be running again, but no paying customers–not just yet, anyway.

This doesn’t mean we’ll open the service at that time, though. At that point, Herzog will simulate full testing of everything for two weeks, and if things go well we’ll be ready to open later in March.

Originally scheduled to launch in 2008, passenger rail service, was delayed by a host of engineering, computer programing and signaling issues, several of which have yet to be resolved. In spite of this,  Cap Metro leaders say they are confident, and expect the rail line to begin operating sometime in March.

None of these are going to keep us from opening the system. Let’s be clear on this. These are not issues that will stop us from opening up…

Issues–smissues.  After firing its contractor Veolia Transportation,  Cap Metro awarded the commuter rail contract to Herzog Transit Services and the freight line contract to Watco Companies Inc., three-fourths of the rail’s “new start” FRA requirements have been addressed leaving only four major issues yet to be resolved.

But there are still issues with signal and crossing programs, the linchpins that delayed startup before.

Whatever label you hang on this story as it’s cause:  stumbling-block, linchpin, programing issues, the fact is, Austin has a passenger railroad, but without any riders, and by default no revenue being generated, no extra automobiles being taken off crowded roadways or carbon emissions saved.

Someday, hopefully someday real soon, this railroad’s gonna open, and when it does there will rise up a cry from the people of  “Hallelujah–it’s about damn time”.

see also:  capmetroblog.com, We’re opening in March, Cap Metro could begin running MetroRail by mid-March, Cap Metro confident MetroRail nearing completionMayor pulls support for vote on urban light rail

This is a follow-up to the original 2009 Frankensteam blog entry titled:  All Systems Go Capital MetroRail Prepares For Service

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