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Montgomery County Celebrates End of Metro’s Red Line ‘Turnback’ at Grosvenor

For Immediate Release: Monday, December 17, 2018

Montgomery County today celebrated the resolution of a major shortcoming of Metrorail service in the County as the Red Line “turnback” of rush hour trains ended. All peak hour morning and afternoon trains leaving Washington, D.C., will now travel all the way to the terminus at the Shady Grove station. Since 1984, in a cost-saving move due to a lack of railcars, Metro had every other rush hour train turnback at Grosvenor and return downtown.

Among a big crowd of elected officials and community leaders who gathered at the Rockville Metro Station to mark the first day of the schedule change were Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich; U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen; Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld; Maryland State Delegates Charles Barkley and Jim Gilchrist; Montgomery County Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer; Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton; and Montgomery County Director of the Department of Transportation Al Roshdieh.

Montgomery County has been actively seeking the operational change for more than a decade. Within the past year, Maryland joined Virginia and the District of Columbia in a commitment to provide additional dedicated funding to Metro. The transit organization used some of those funds to purchase new railcars, leading the Metro Board of Directors to recently voting to end the Grosvenor turnback.

“The commuters of Montgomery County have been asking for the Red Line turnback at the Grosvenor station to end for about a decade,” said County Executive Elrich. “Since the 1980s, this operation has left our residents with longer commutes, and in winter, it has left many of them standing on Metro platforms in the cold waiting for the later trains. We understand the financial pressures that Metro has been under, but we were strong backers of Maryland’s commitment to provide dedicated funding for an improved Metro system. We are hoping this is one of the steps that will demonstrate that our money will be used to benefit transit users. We thank Metro’s Board of Directors for making this happen.”

The turnaround directly affects commuters from the White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove stations—the four stations north of Grosvenor. Elimination of the turnbacks will double rush-hour service, which means there will be trains every four minutes at those stations.

“The elimination of Grosvenor Turnback is possible thanks to Montgomery County’s support for more frequent service—both in terms of funding, as well as additional railcars needed to support the change,” said Metro General Manager Wiedefeld. “We look forward to working with our jurisdictional partners to make similar improvements elsewhere on the system.”

Shady Grove is the second-busiest station in Montgomery County (Silver Spring is the busiest) with more than 11,500 average weekday boardings.

“This has been a long time coming but there’s no turning back now— for more than a decade we have urged Metro to end the Grosvenor Station turnaround, and today this hard work has finally paid off,” said Senator Van Hollen. “It is a big win for all the commuters who live in Rockville, northern Montgomery County and parts of western Maryland. I am committed to ensuring Metro provides the best possible service to all our Maryland residents.”

Rather than deal with the turnbacks, some Northern Montgomery commuters have simply chosen to park at Grosvenor. This added more drivers on Route 355 and I-270 in the morning and afternoons. The turnback elimination should take some traffic off stretches of the roads as those commuters may now choose to park at other northern Red Line stations.

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Photos from the press event.

Release ID: 18-769
Media Contact: Neil H. Greenberger 240-777-6532