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The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) on Saturday will kick off a switch renewal and replacement project aimed at improving on-time performance and reliability for its light-rail system.The project is the first in a series of switch machine upgrades to be completed this year, TriMet officials said in a press release.The machine being replaced on Saturday moves trains from the track serving the center platform at the Gateway Transit Center to the single mainline westbound track. If the electrical switch malfunctions, it must be operated manually, which can delay trains.TriMet's maintenance crews have already removed and replaced adjacent rail ties and will complete groundwork for the switch machine replacement without affecting service, agency officials said. The final phase of machine replacement will require service adjustments on March 26, however.The work is part of TriMet's ongoing effort to improve and upgrade its tracks, stations and signal systems. The agency's other efforts include upgrading tracks in downtown Portland, Ore., as part of the Morrison-Yamhill Improvements Projects.That work is slated to begin April 30 and continue through May 20.
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