Life and Times

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Silver Line

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2

The gathered crowd heads up the escalators and into the station.

The gathered crowd heads up the escalators and into the station.

The gathered crowd heads up the escalators and into the station.

The gathered crowd heads up the escalators and into the station.

The gathered crowd heads up the escalators and into the station.


Arriving at the platform, our train was the same one that was used for the VIP train earlier in the day, but now going the other direction.  Thus from the head end, the cars on the inaugural train were 6143, 6142, 6027, 6026, 6141, and 6140.  Matthew and I got on 6141, where David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington was standing, holding a sign for the site.  I knew the folks from Greater Greater Washington, having shared an Amtrak train with them by coincidence from Chicago to DC in August 2011.  Was great to see all of them again.


Silver Line to Largo Town Center!

Silver Line to Largo Town Center!


On the train, filled to standing room, the mood was very happy.  Every time that we heard an announcement or something indicating progress towards starting up, the car erupted in cheers.  Interestingly enough, though, they had some trouble getting the doors closed before we could go.  I guess all the crowds made closing the doors a little more difficult than otherwise.  I was just hoping that the first Silver Line ride wouldn’t end in an offload due to a door problem before it ever started.  That thankfully didn’t happen, and we were off, to more cheers.



Next station: Spring Hill!

Next station: Spring Hill!


Spring Hill!  Doors will open on the left.

Spring Hill!  Doors will open on the left.


Between Spring Hill and Greensboro station, a bunch of us on the train helped shoot a promo for WUSA news, where everyone was asked to cheer on cue for the camera.  That took far too many takes, but we eventually got it.


Next station: Tysons Corner!

Next station: Tysons Corner!


Next station: McLean.  Note the lowercase "C" in "McLean", which is unusual for the interior displays.

Next station: McLean.  Note the lowercase “C” in “McLean”, which is unusual for the interior displays.


Next station: East Falls Church!  This was the first time that a train would arrive at East Falls Church and treat it in its new role as a transfer station.

Next station: East Falls Church!  This was the first time that a train would arrive at East Falls Church and treat it in its new role as a transfer station.


At East Falls Church, most people got off of the train, including the folks from Greater Greater Washington, as well as Beyond DC.  I gave them all high fives as they got off the train.  Another Silver Line train was waiting at East Falls Church in order to carry people back to Wiehle.  My understanding was that, now that our train had reached East Falls Church, all of the simulated Silver Line trains, which had been carrying passengers as Orange Line trains between East Falls Church and Largo, changed their destinations to Silver, and began taking passengers to all Silver Line destinations.

For Matthew and I, however, the official show may have been over, but our ride was not.  After all, it was only proper to ride the first Silver Line train all the way to Largo Town Center, and that’s what we did, as we rode a Metro car that was familiar (I’d had 6141 twice before) through familiar territory, on an unfamiliar service, to its completion.


The Silver Line continues!  Next station, Ballston-MU.

The Silver Line continues!  Next station, Ballston-MU.


On the bridge east of Stadium-Armory, we spotted streetcars being tested on Benning Road.  Seemed fitting to see that.

On the bridge east of Stadium-Armory, we spotted streetcars being tested on Benning Road.  Seemed fitting to see that.


The arrival at Largo was without fanfare, with nothing more than a standard announcement at the end of the line.


After the train arrived, however, Matthew and I finished our first Silver Line ride by getting photos of each other shaking hands with Detrick Washington, the operator of the first Silver Line train.


Handshake with Detrick Washington, the operator of the first Silver Line train.

Handshake with Detrick Washington, the operator of the first Silver Line train.

Handshake with Detrick Washington, the operator of the first Silver Line train.


From there, we headed over to The Boulevard at the Capital Centre to get some lunch.  That place had certainly changed since I was last there in 2011.  There’s an area of the facility called Restaurant Row that, when I first visited in 2004, was full of all sorts of places to eat, including Starbucks, Five Guys, and various other places that you would expect to see in a shopping center.  Now, to my surprise, it was down to only two places: Panda Express and Silvestre Chicken (Peruvian).


I was very surprised to see so few restaurants in Restaurant Row, which used to be full.

I was very surprised to see so few restaurants in Restaurant Row, which used to be full.


There were sit-down restaurants elsewhere in the facility, but neither of us wanted to spend the extra money on that, nor did we particularly want to spend that much time having lunch.  So we chose Silvestre Chicken.  It wasn’t a bad meal at all, and so if you’re out that way, I definitely recommend it.

And surprise: Matthew and I ran into one of my old residents from Potomac Hall, who lived on my floor in 2002-2003.  That was a lot of fun, as I got to catch up with someone whom I hadn’t seen since college.  I actually got my television from him after he and his roommate left it in Potomac Hall at the end of the year.  He was amazed to see that I was still using it, but hey, it still works, and considering how little I use it, I’m not about to replace it until it dies.

After lunch, we headed back over to Metro, and got on a Silver Line train heading back to Virginia.  We rode this train from Largo Town Center to McLean.  When we departed East Falls Church, the operator announced, “Next station is McLean, first station on the Silver Line!”  While I understand the sentiment, indicating that we were going to the new stations, that still surprised me, because Silver Line is everything from Wiehle to Largo Town Center, i.e. it includes 24 stations that existed prior to the construction of the new segment, as well as the five stations along the new segment.

Beginning at McLean, Matthew and I went into station-railfanning mode.  We visited McLean, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle, getting off the train at each of these.  We skipped Tysons Corner because we had already been in the morning, and because we had to return there when we were done.

And for the record, the ride between Spring Hill and Wiehle feels exceptionally long – because it is.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East departs McLean station.


Station entrance pylon at McLean.

Station entrance pylon at McLean.


Escalators at McLean.

Escalators at McLean.


Mezzanine at McLean.

Mezzanine at McLean.


The platform at McLean.  The platform canopy reminds me of a modern version of the canopy design found at Braddock Road and King Street stations.  The platform at McLean.  The platform canopy reminds me of a modern version of the canopy design found at Braddock Road and King Street stations.

The platform at McLean.  The platform canopy reminds me of a modern version of the canopy design found at Braddock Road and King Street stations.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East arrives at McLean station.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East departs Greensboro station.


Station entrance pylon at Greensboro.

Station entrance pylon at Greensboro.


Entrance to Greensboro station.

Entrance to Greensboro station.


Escalator and stairs to the pedestrian bridge at Greensboro.

Escalator and stairs to the pedestrian bridge at Greensboro.


Pedestrian bridge over Route 7 at Greensboro.

Pedestrian bridge over Route 7 at Greensboro.


Water fountains adjacent to restrooms in the mezzanine at Greensboro station.

Water fountains adjacent to restrooms in the mezzanine at Greensboro station.


Greensboro station mezzanine.

Greensboro station mezzanine.


Canopy over the mezzanine and platform at Greensboro.

Canopy over the mezzanine and platform at Greensboro.


SpectrAlert Advance speaker and strobe at Greensboro.

SpectrAlert Advance speaker and strobe at Greensboro.


Outbound end of the platform at Greensboro station.

Outbound end of the platform at Greensboro station.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East arrives at Greensboro station.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East departs Spring Hill station.


Station entrance pylon at Spring Hill.

Station entrance pylon at Spring Hill.


Entrance to Spring Hill station.

Entrance to Spring Hill station.


Mezzanine at Spring Hill.

Mezzanine at Spring Hill.


The faregates at Spring Hill.  Note that these are steel-colored, rather than brown as in the older stations.

The faregates at Spring Hill.  Note that these are steel-colored, rather than brown as in the older stations.


Platform canopy at Spring Hill.  Like at McLean, Spring Hill's canopy reminds me of the canopies at Braddock Road and King Street stations.

Platform canopy at Spring Hill.  Like at McLean, Spring Hill’s canopy reminds me of the canopies at Braddock Road and King Street stations.

Platform canopy at Spring Hill.  Like at McLean, Spring Hill's canopy reminds me of the canopies at Braddock Road and King Street stations.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East arrives at Spring Hill station.


Next station: Wiehle-Reston East!

Next station: Wiehle-Reston East!


I wasn't quite sure what these were supposed to be, but I suspect that they are still incomplete, and that they will be some sort of public art when they are completed.

I wasn’t quite sure what these were supposed to be, but I suspect that they are still incomplete, and that they will be some sort of public art when they are completed.


A family poses for a photo in front of the pylon at Wiehle-Reston East.

A family poses for a photo in front of the pylon at Wiehle-Reston East.


Pedestrian bridge over the westbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle.

Pedestrian bridge over the westbound lanes of the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle.


Mezzanine at Wiehle-Reston East.

Mezzanine at Wiehle-Reston East.


Train at the platform at Wiehle-Reston East with "WIEHLE-RESTON" destination sign.

Train at the platform at Wiehle-Reston East with “WIEHLE-RESTON” destination sign.


Emergency exit and automatic train control signage at the inbound end of the platform.

Emergency exit and automatic train control signage at the inbound end of the platform.


A Silver Line train arrives at Wiehle-Reston East on the inbound track.  I noticed that since there is a pocket track beyond this station, trains service this station in the same way that they would a station where the trains reverse before the end of the line, such as Mt. Vernon Square, Silver Spring, or Grosvenor.  In other words, trains offload the passengers from the outbound track and go out of service, depart the station, go into the pocket track, change ends, and then reenter the station on the inbound track and go back into service.

A Silver Line train arrives at Wiehle-Reston East on the inbound track.  I noticed that since there is a pocket track beyond this station, trains service this station in the same way that they would a station where the trains reverse before the end of the line, such as Mt. Vernon Square, Silver Spring, or Grosvenor.  In other words, trains offload the passengers from the outbound track and go out of service, depart the station, go into the pocket track, change ends, and then reenter the station on the inbound track and go back into service.


We left Wiehle on this train, and traveled back to Tysons Corner in order to head out, as we had accomplished everything that we had set out to do.


A Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East departs Tysons Corner station.


Getting back, we got a few photos, and quickly found my car.  That was easy, because by that time, my car was the only one remaining in the parking lot.  All of the other VIPs had left earlier in the day.


Station entrance pylon at Tysons Corner.

Station entrance pylon at Tysons Corner.


My car in the VIP parking lot at 6:42 in the evening - the very last one to leave.

My car in the VIP parking lot at 6:42 in the evening – the very last one to leave.


From there, Matthew and I headed over to a nearby CVS to rehydrate, and then I took him home before going home myself.  Not a bad day!  The new stations are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m delighted to see the first phase of a rail line through the Dulles corridor completed – especially as I can now take Metro all the way out Reston to visit Matthew, which means less driving for me.

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Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2