April 2024

Rail Shutdowns Allow METRO to Improve Safety

Workers make reapirs on a METRORail line during the night.


Ever wonder what happens during METRO’s rail shutdowns? A few times a year, customers are notified about a service interruption along one of the METRORail lines. During these closures, METRO employees and contractors work around the clock to make critical rail improvements while minimizing the impact to customers.

“Every component we have on the rail system has to go through a maintenance interval to keep it functioning,” said Assistant Superintendent of Special Events & Construction Eddie Espinosa, “It’s all about maintaining a healthy rail system.”

Monitoring the condition of the rail and replacing components according to their expiration date prevents unplanned closures and ensures the safety of passengers and employees.

“People don’t see all that goes on behind the scenes. It’s a huge effort,” said Espinosa.

Espinosa oversees the entire process, planning what work can be achieved during the allotted time and communicating within the agency and beyond. Planned shutdowns are carefully scheduled around Houston’s big events.

METRO worker making repairs to rail electrical box.
Crews work to replace a switch near Palm Center Transit Center.


“We reach out to different agencies and venues, like NRG Stadium or the George R. Brown Convention Center, so that when we schedule a shutdown, we don’t do it while they have a major event that people might be relying on rail to get to,” said Espinosa.

In April, the Purple Line was closed for a weekend to make switch and insulator replacements, change cameras, and clean platform canopies. Switches on the rail are used to move trains from one track to another. Insulators are a key component of the train’s overhead lines.

After a weekend of work, crews successfully got the rail back up and running for the Monday morning commute.

“These trains move a great deal of our public, so you want to make sure the train stays on track how it’s supposed to, and everything is safe,” said Signals & Communications Supervisor Kareem King.

METRO provides free bus shuttle service to riders during every shutdown. To sign up to receive alerts about closures and everyday METRO service, click here.

METRO workers service overhead catenary lines along rail.
METRO employees work alongside contractors to replace an insulator.

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