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Metro approves $81.5M plan to cut down on Blue Line delays

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It’s one of several updates planned for the light rail route

Blue Line train heading for Los Angeles
Opened in 1990, the Blue Line is the oldest light rail route in Metro’s system.

As Metro continues to expand its rapidly developing rail network, the agency has also begun to double back of late, with plans to improve service on the aging Blue Line. On Thursday, Metro’s Board of Directors approved an $81.5 million contract that will pay for track upgrades along the route aimed at reducing delays in service.

The project will add four new interlockings to the route, allowing trains to switch tracks more often to avoid construction or areas where mechanical issues are occurring.

That might not sound very exciting, but it should cut down on frequent delays fluster some riders.

Metro staffers report that during situations in which trains are required to switch tracks—to get around maintenance work or other obstacles—service along some stretches of the Blue Line is limited to the point that trains only arrive every 30 to 40 minutes. Such delays can trickle down and affect service for much of the day.

A Los Angeles Times analysis found that 16 percent of Blue Line trains were late in June of 2016 (Expo and Gold Line trains performed a bit worse that month).

With the new interlockings, the agency says trains will be able to arrive every 15 to 20 minutes when they have to change tracks, meaning mechanical issues and track maintenance will have much less of an effect on service.

The track updates are just one of several updates planned for the route, including new train cars and signal priority through the city of Long Beach that could reduce ride times between Downtown Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles by up to 10 minutes.