The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has announced the opening date of its long-awaited extension to the Silver Line, which includes a station at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Currently, Washington Dulles International Airport is linked to Metrorail through a bus service from Wiehle-Reston Metro station. However, from November 15th, the airport will be directly connected to the city’s transit network for the first time with its own station.

The 11.5-mile extension was due to open in 2018, but a series of delays due to construction issues has left it four years behind schedule. There were even concerns as late as last month that the opening may have to be further delayed due to a shortage of trains. The $3 billion project will now open in time for Thanksgiving, one of the peak travel periods of the year.

With the opening, six new stations will be added to the Silver Line – Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway, and Ashburn.

Metrorail network map

Photo: WMATA

Chief executive of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Jack Potter, celebrated the announcement, saying,

“The opening of Silver Line Metro service will have a major positive impact for Dulles International Airport, its passengers and the entire region. It will bring to fruition a transportation vision decades in the making.”

Opening in time for Thanksgiving

The opening of the extended Metro line will come just in time for Thanksgiving. Airports across the US are expected to see passenger numbers over the holiday weekend exceeding 2019 levels, when over 93 million passengers took to the skies.

WMATA announced the opening date on Twitter:

WMATA has advised that it needs to obtain safety certification to be able to operate trains on the line, but it is confident that this can be done before the opening date.

Washington Dulles International Airport is a major hub for United Airlines, and just a couple of days after the Metro line opens, the airline will launch direct flights to Cape Town, using its Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Improved connectivity

Thanks to the new extension, Washington Dulles International Airport will finally be connected directly to the city’s transit system. The Metro station will be less than five minutes’ walk from the terminal building – a vast improvement for passengers over the current arrangement of a shuttle bus from Wiehle-Reston Metro station.

Being connected to a city’s transport network makes the airport a more appealing option for both business and leisure travelers. Passengers will benefit from easier journeys to and from the airport, and tourists will easily be able to reach the downtown Washington DC area.

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Washington Dulles International Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport is not the only airport to be debuting a new downtown link. Transport for London is about to extend services on the Elizabeth Line, connecting London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to London in less than 30 minutes.

How do you normally travel to Washington Dulles International Airport? Will the opening of the Silver Line metro extension change your travel habits? Share your thoughts by commenting below.


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