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Washington's subway begins planning for inauguration crush

WASHINGTON — Washington, D.C.'s subway system, Metrorail, will expand its operating hours on Jan. 20, when as many as 4 million visitors are expected to descend on the capital for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the country's first black president.

How that huge crowd -- Washington's total population is estimated at under 600,000 -- will move around is a major concern of city and inauguration officials, who've even suggested that some visitors will spend the night on the National Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument to have a spot to watch the festivities.

"We expect that our stations and trains will be packed as people head to the Inauguration, and we expect to see even tighter conditions afterward," Metro General Manager John Catoe said. "People should expect to be waiting in long lines to get back into Metro stations after the Inauguration, perhaps for a half hour or more."

To ease the burden, Metro announced it would begin running trains at 4 a.m. Jan. 20 and not stop until 2 a.m. the next morning.

Read Metrorail's news release on its plans.

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