People on Fulton Street are getting their first glimpse of the light rail train that will soon start running on the North Line extention. But this is a test train.
The overhead power lines aren’t hooked up yet, so this train is being towed by a small engine known as a shuttlewagon.
It’s traveling at only about three miles an hour. Metro’s Margaret O’Brien-Molina says that’s so crews can check for things like bends and bumps on the track.
“Anytime there’s something that looks like it might be a little deviation, there’s a couple of inches of clearance where maybe there should be six inches, it has to be stopped, photographed, and recorded.”
Metro’s rail expansion project is adding about five miles to the current Red Line. The expansion will run from UH-Downtown to past the 610 North Loop. They’ll start operations late this year. O’Brien-Molina says they need to get ready for the actual tests, when the trains will be fully powered and will run at normal speeds.
“It’s extremely important, because how that train travels, like being able to see everything, making sure that the signalization for the pedestrians or vehicles traveling the streets, that we can all see each other.”
Metro will also begin testing in the next few months on the two other lines under construction, the East End Line and the Southeast Line.