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Four and half years after a deadly rail crash forced Metro to let humans instead of computers drive its subway trains, the transit agency has reached “a milestone” in its effort to return to an automated system in which train operators do little more than make announcements, open and close doors, and keep an eye out for trouble.

Although the resumption of “automatic train operation” throughout the rail network remains a long way off, the work of preparing Metro’s busiest route, the Red Line, for computer-driven trains is “essentially completed,” said Rob Troup, the agency’s deputy general manager for operations. He called it “absolutely a milestone” in a project aimed at making the system more efficient and providing a smoother ride.

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