Life and Times

Life and Times from 2017

Life and Times from 2016

Life and Times from 2015

Life and Times from 2014

Life and Times from 2013

Life and Times from 2012

Life and Times from 2011

Life and Times from 2010

Life and Times from 2009

Life and Times from 2008

Life and Times from 2007

Life and Times from 2006

Life and Times from 2005

Life and Times from 2004

Life and Times from 2003

Life and Times from 2002

Life and Times from 2000

Silver Line

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1

Station entrance pylon for Wiehle-Reston East station.On July 26, 2014, Metro introduced a new rail service to its riders: the Silver Line.  For those not familiar, the Silver Line is Metro’s newest rail line, which carries passengers from Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Virginia to Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and, when fully completed a few years down the road, will carry passengers out to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

When Metro announced the date of the Silver Line’s opening, my friend Matthew and I were able to formulate our plans for riding the Silver Line on the first day of revenue service.  After all, Matthew lives near the new line, and I whenever I go visit him, my route takes me on the Dulles Toll Road past Wiehle Avenue station.  So actually riding the new rail line would be exciting for that alone.  In addition, with my having visited every single station in the past, the opening of five new stations meant that there were five new stations that I had not yet been to, and I had to take care of that.

In the lead-up to the Silver Line’s opening, Metro had been giving lots of updates about Silver Line’s progress through its Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project site, and its Silver Bulletin newsletter.  You may recall the various Silver LineLook Alive” advertisements, as well as a video showing people dancing in the new stations.  One of the things that Metro did was conduct a drawing amongst the pool of Silver Bulletin newsletter subscribers.  Ten subscribers would receive passes to ride a VIP train through the new Silver Line stations ahead of the general public, and attend the opening ceremony.

The original plan that Matthew and I came up with was that we were going to get together some time after the line opened to the public, head over to Wiehle Avenue station, ride all the way out to Largo Town Center, and then visit McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, and Spring Hill on the way back to Wiehle.  However, when I inquired to Metro over Facebook a few days ahead of the opening about whether the winners of the contest had been announced yet, I was met with a surprise: an inquiry asking whether I wanted to attend.  A few messages back and forth later, I had reservations for a ride on the VIP train for Matthew and me.  Cool!

That changed our plans a bit, since now we were part of the show, and not just coming to ride.  Our invitation indicated that we needed to be at the Tysons Corner station no later than 9:30 AM to ride the train, and so we adjusted our plans accordingly.

On the morning of the 26th, I followed the philosophy of “hurry up and wait“, and thus left the house at 7:00.  After all, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I wasn’t going to let any small delay rob me of it.  I was definitely having fun with the Silver Line theme, as I texted Matthew as I was walking out the door to say, “Look alive: I’m on my way.”  I got to Matthew’s house at 7:40, and we were off.  First stop: Whole Foods in Tysons to get breakfast.  And it’s good that we got such an early start, because we had traffic going to and from Whole Foods.  Let’s just say that Route 7 is not my favorite road in the world.  You would think that it would be quiet early on Saturday morning, but you would be quite wrong.

Soon, we arrived at the designated VIP parking area, a fenced in area adjacent to the station, near Tysons II.  From there, it was a short walk to the Tysons Corner station.  Arriving, we checked in, and got our VIP badges with commemorative SmarTrip cards preloaded with an all-day pass, along with our car assignment, which was car #6.  From there, we waited.  Matthew and I talked, chatted it up with some of the other participants that were nearby, and took some photos.


Standing outside the entrance to Tysons Corner station with my VIP badge  Matthew standing outside the entrance to Tysons Corner station with his VIP badge

Matthew and I, just after we got our VIP passes.


The VIP crowd outside the entrance to Tysons Corner station.

The VIP crowd outside the entrance to Tysons Corner station.


I also looked to see if we could recognize any elected officials in the crowd.  Matthew and I weren’t so good on who the Northern Virginia politicians were, and as this was primarily a Virginia event, Maryland officials, with whom I was more familiar, were unlikely to be present.  We did, however, spot former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore in the crowd.

At 9:30, the gates opened, and they let all of us into the new Tysons Corner station.  The entrance was unusual, as two escalators led up to the mezzanine level.  From there, after passing through the faregates, we took another escalator down to the platform to meet our train.


Entering Tysons Corner station and taking the escalators up to the mezzanine for the first time.

Entering Tysons Corner station and taking the escalators up to the mezzanine for the first time.

Entering Tysons Corner station and taking the escalators up to the mezzanine for the first time.

Entering Tysons Corner station and taking the escalators up to the mezzanine for the first time.


This was the first time that any of us saw the kiosks at the new stations. Yes, those kiosks are white, not dark brown as in the existing stations.

This was the first time that any of us saw the kiosks at the new stations.  Yes, those kiosks are white, not dark brown as in the existing stations.


The platform at Tysons Corner station.  The platform at Tysons Corner station.

The platform at Tysons Corner station.


The train was an all-Alstom consist, with six carpetless cars.  The VIP train consisted of cars 6140, 6141, 6026, 6027, 6142, and 6143.  We were in 6143, which, for purposes of this ride, was car #6.


On board Alstom 6143 while waiting for the train to leave.

On board Alstom 6143 while waiting for the train to leave.


Matthew in his seat on Alstom 6143.

Matthew in his seat on Alstom 6143.


View out the back of the train at Tysons Corner station. This is track N2, facing inbound.

View out the back of the train at Tysons Corner station.  This is track N2, facing inbound.


Looking at the station, I was impressed with how clean and modern the architecture was.  This was a significant departure from the 1970s-era gull wing canopies that I’m used to seeing on the Red Line.

This was also the first time I’d ever seen fire alarm equipment in passenger areas of Metro stations.  In the existing stations, all of the station manager kiosks have Edwards dual-action pull stations, and some stations have notification appliances in the back areas.  But there are never any in the passenger areas.  These new stations had red SpectrAlert Advance strobes, and separate white SpectrAlert Advance speakers.  In the uncovered areas, the SpectrAlert Advance speakers were replaced by larger speakers by Atlas Sound.


Two SpectrAlert Advance strobes with two Atlas Sound speakers.

Two SpectrAlert Advance strobes with two Atlas Sound speakers.

Two SpectrAlert Advance strobes with two Atlas Sound speakers.


While we were waiting for the train to leave, I took some photos of the station, being careful not to stray too far away from 6143, because I didn’t know exactly when the train would depart.


Matthew stands on the platform at Tysons.

Matthew stands on the platform at Tysons.


View of Tysons Corner from our train. My car was parked in that fenced area to the left.

View of Tysons Corner from our train.  My car was parked in that fenced area to the left.


Exit signage on the uncovered part of the platform.

Exit signage on the uncovered part of the platform.


The simulated Silver Line trains, meanwhile, which had been running through the new stations all week, were running through the station on the opposite track, displaying Orange Line signage.  The simulated service would continue until the first revenue Silver Line train reached East Falls Church.


Simulated Silver Line train, showing Orange Line to East Falls Church on the destination sign, on the inbound track (since our train was on the outbound track). While the simulated Silver Line service was underway in the week prior to this, the simulated Silver Line trains were signed as Orange Line trains to Largo and East Falls Church, and carried passengers between those locations. West of East Falls Church, the trains ran without passengers.

Simulated Silver Line train, showing Orange Line to East Falls Church on the destination sign, on the inbound track (since our train was on the outbound track).  While the simulated Silver Line service was underway in the week prior to this, the simulated Silver Line trains were signed as Orange Line trains to Largo and East Falls Church, and carried passengers between those locations.  West of East Falls Church, the trains ran without passengers.


When our train departed, I started filming.  This was the view from the sixth car of the VIP train for the opening of the Silver Line…


Note the cheers as the train departed Tysons Corner.  I was facing out the side window from Tysons Corner to Spring Hill, and then I moved to the cab door for the remainder of the ride.


Arriving at Wiehle, our train took the outbound track.  On the inbound track, Matthew and I spotted an eight-car set of 7000-Series railcars, which were still undergoing acceptance testing.  I’d seen and toured these cars before, but this was Matthew’s first time seeing these new railcars in person.  They had a gray swatch on their destination signs, along with the destination of “Wiehle-Reston”.  Very sharp.


Car 7000, displaying "Wiehle-Reston" with color swatch. Due to technical limitations on the existing fleet's signs, the existing revenue fleet would not display any color swatch for Silver Line service.

Car 7000, displaying “Wiehle-Reston” with color swatch.  Due to technical limitations on the existing fleet’s signs, the existing revenue fleet would not display any color swatch for Silver Line service.


Inside car 7000, still set up for acceptance testing.

Inside car 7000, still set up for acceptance testing.


The 7000-Series train set at Wiehle-Reston East.

The 7000-Series train set at Wiehle-Reston East.


Matthew and I, photographed in front of car 7000.

Matthew and I, photographed in front of car 7000.


I also posed with the car number for 7000.

I also posed with the car number for 7000.


Then we headed up to attend the opening ceremony.  In the mezzanine, we spotted Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe giving an interview.


Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe speaks to the media prior to the opening ceremony.

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe speaks to the media prior to the opening ceremony.


The mezzanine level at Wiehle-Reston East.

The mezzanine level at Wiehle-Reston East.

The mezzanine level at Wiehle-Reston East.

The mezzanine level at Wiehle-Reston East.

The mezzanine level at Wiehle-Reston East.


As we headed out, I needed to take a restroom break, and so I took the opportunity to check out another feature of these new stations: public restrooms.  These station restrooms are the first where the public need not ask a station manager to be let into the restroom.


One of several unisex single-occupancy restrooms at Wiehle-Reston East.

One of several unisex single-occupancy restrooms at Wiehle-Reston East.


Pedestrian bridges over the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle-Reston East.  Pedestrian bridges over the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle-Reston East.

Pedestrian bridges over the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle-Reston East.


View from the pedestrian bridge over the eastbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road.

View from the pedestrian bridge over the eastbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road.

View from the pedestrian bridge over the eastbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road.


The opening ceremony was set up in a nearby parking lot.  The speeches were given from a tent where the press and elected officials observed.  The rest of us sat in rows of chairs in the sun outside the tent, with an audio feed from inside, but no video – so unfortunately, we couldn’t see what was going on.


The view from my seat at the opening ceremony. The speeches were being given from inside the tent, and thus, unfortunately, we couldn't see much of anything.

The view from my seat at the opening ceremony.  The speeches were being given from inside the tent, and thus, unfortunately, we couldn’t see much of anything.


The program for the Silver Line opening ceremony.

The program for the Silver Line opening ceremony.


Eventually, I ended up getting up and walking around a bit, and chatted it up with Lori Aratani of The Washington Post, with whom I’ve talked on the Twitter in the past.  Matthew and I also got some Silver Line  water, picked up our Silver Line pennants, and got various photos of things.


Silver Line water, on ice.

Silver Line water, on ice.

Silver Line water, on ice.


For some reason, I just loved this trash can. I think it's because it's obviously a standard wheeled plastic can, but the markings on it make it uniquely Metro.

For some reason, I just loved this trash can.  I think it’s because it’s obviously a standard wheeled plastic can, but the markings on it make it uniquely Metro.


Silver Line grand opening pennants, ready for distribution.

Silver Line grand opening pennants, ready for distribution.


Matthew and I with our Silver Line pennants.  Matthew and I with our Silver Line pennants.

Matthew and I with our Silver Line pennants.


Fox 5 interviews Sol Glasner, chair of the Tysons Partnership.

Fox 5 interviews Sol Glasner, chair of the Tysons Partnership.


Wiehle-Reston East station entrance pylon.

Wiehle-Reston East station entrance pylon.


At last, it was time to cut the ribbon.  I wasn’t able to see the cutting itself from my vantage point, but I was thoroughly amused that Teddy Roosevelt, one of the Washington Nationals’ mascot characters, was in attendance.  Following the ribbon cutting, everyone was let into the station to board the first revenue Silver Line train.  On the way in, I got a chance to shake hands with and talk with Governor Gilmore.  The conversation was pretty inconsequential, but still, it was pretty neat to meet a former governor.


Standing outside the station entrance, waiting for the ribbon cutting.

Standing outside the station entrance, waiting for the ribbon cutting.


Everyone was photographing the ribbon cutting with their phones.

Everyone was photographing the ribbon cutting with their phones.


Here comes Teddy!

Here comes Teddy!


Governor Gilmore stood at the entrance to the station and did some meeting and greeting as people came in. Moments after I took this photo, I shook Governor Gilmore's hand and got to talk with him for a moment.

Governor Gilmore stood at the entrance to the station and did some meeting and greeting as people came in.  Moments after I took this photo, I shook Governor Gilmore’s hand and got to talk with him for a moment.

Comments are closed.

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1