Skip to main content

Rider's Almanac Blog

METRO Blue Line METRO Gold Line

Rail maintenance projects keep trains running smoothly, safely

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, April 22, 2024 3:26:00 PM

Construction crews repair rail breaks near the METRO Green Line's Fairview Avenue Station.Top left and bottom right: Crews repair rail breaks near the METRO Green Line's Fairview Avenue Station on Saturday, April 20, 2024. With embedded track, crews have to remove and replace concrete that surrounds the track. At top right and bottom left, crews in Bloomington replaced worn track sections on the Blue Line (May 2024). 

The light rail vehicles, tracks, signals, and stations we rely on to get tens of thousands of people to their destinations every day are built to stand the test of time.

But the longevity of these assets depends in large part on how well they’re maintained.

That’s why we are continually inspecting, repairing, and performing preventative maintenance activities that ensure our fleet and our facilities remain in top shape, especially as they age.

This year, our planned rail maintenance activities include:

  • Repairing rail breaks that occur when temperatures fall below freezing
  • Replacing sections of worn track
  • Installing new signal technology that meets modern standards
  • Restoring nearly 20-year-old light rail vehicles worn down after putting on hundreds of thousands of miles and going through many harsh Minnesota winters

These and other activities are essential to providing safe and reliable service, today and in the years to come. They also help us keep trains on schedule: When there are breaks in the rail, trains travel slower than usual until permanent repairs can be made.

But rail maintenance is also disruptive.

During construction, overhead wires are de-energized; installing new track often involves not just removing and welding sections of rail but tearing out and replacing the concrete that surround it.

Until fixes are complete, buses are used to replicate light rail service, providing station-to-station service and operating on a similar schedule as trains. In 2024, buses are scheduled to replace trains on the following dates:

  • Friday, May 3, through Monday, May 13, between the Blue Line’s Fort Snelling and Mall of America stations. Buses are replacing trains to allow for track repairs and signal upgrades, continuing a multi-year maintenance project spanning the entire length of the nearly 20-year-old Blue Line.
  • Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, between the Green Line’s Stadium Village and Target Field stations, and between the Blue Line’s U.S. Bank and Target Field stations. Buses are replacing trains to allow for track repairs.

Buses also replaced Green Line trains between April 19-22 to allow for track repairs.

To limit the impacts of these rail disruptions, we:

  • Work around the clock to complete repairs as soon as possible (fresh concrete dries only so quickly, however).
  • Bundle construction activities and work with partners to identify any other projects that can be completed while trains aren’t operating.
  • Avoid high ridership dates, such as dates with large special events.
  • Communicate early and often about any changes in service, including station announcements and signage and text/email alerts (pro tip: Sign up to receive Rider Alerts).

Have feedback on how we can better communicate rail disruptions or support you when trains are out of service? Let us know how we can improve by emailing [email protected].

We’re hiring!

Want to join the team that helps maintain our rail network? We’re hiring track and traction power maintainers, signals technicians, and mechanic technicians who repair and maintain light rail vehicles. Learn more and apply at metrotransit.org/careers-mechanics