Re­paired rail cars pulled in over new de­fect

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Me­gan Trim­ble

PHILADEL­PHIA » The Philadel­phia area’s main tran­sit agency has pulled its re­paired rail cars from ser­vice af­ter dis­cov­er­ing a new prob­lem.

Ear­lier this sum­mer, the South­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity side­lined 120 rail cars to fix beams in their sus­pen­sion sys­tems, and it be­gan re­turn­ing some of them to ser­vice this month.

But SEPTA of­fi­cials said Mon­day that in­spec­tors found a de­sign prob­lem over the week­end that re­sulted in oc­ca­sional con­tact be­tween the piece that con­nects the new beam and the ex­ist­ing equip­ment. Eigh­teen cars that had been ei­ther re­turned to ser­vice or were ready for ser­vice were brought back into the shop.

The prob­lem was not a safety is­sue, but a de­sign change is be­ing made to pre­serve long-term equip­ment qual­ity, SEPTA of­fi­cials said. Those cars are ex­pected to be avail­able later in the week.

“Equip­ment was per­form­ing as ex­pected, how­ever, this oc­ca­sional con­tact would ul­ti­mately re­quire added main­te­nance, in­spec­tion and ul­ti­mately more re­pairs,” SEPTA spokesman An­drew Busch said.

SEPTA of­fi­cials had pulled the agency’s en­tire fleet of Sil­ver­liner V cars, a third of its re­gional rail­road fleet, from ser­vice just be­fore the Fourth of July week­end af­ter in­spec­tors found a frac­tured beam on

one car and fa­tigue cracks on oth­ers.

With the fleet re­duced, rid­ers ex­pe­ri­enced de­layed and packed trains.

The tran­sit agency and the trains’ man­u­fac­turer, South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, have at­trib­uted the flaws to a com­bi­na­tion of de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing mis­steps.

SEPTA Gen­eral Man­ager Jeff Knuep­pel said in a state­ment that the agency and the man­u­fac­turer are con­duct­ing thor­ough tests and in­spec­tions of the equip­ment.

“SEPTA is com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure the re­pair

process is done cor­rectly to en­sure a long-last­ing life,” Knuep­pel said.

De­spite the new set­back, the agency says it can get all the cars in work­ing or­der by mid-Novem­ber as planned.

The newly iden­ti­fied prob­lem “does take away some ca­pac­ity that we had been able to in­crease as we were bring­ing the trains back,” Busch said. The train sched­ule is ex­pected to re­main the same, but some rid­ers may ex­pe­ri­ence crowded cars.

The rail sys­tem link­ing Philadel­phia and its sub­urbs has seen a 10 to 20 per­cent drop in rider­ship com­pared with last year.


The Sil­ver­liner V cars were taken off the rails in the Philadel­phia re­gion af­ter struc­tural de­fects were found in 115 out of 120 to­tal cars in the fleet.

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