Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LACMTA addresses LRT track gauge flaw

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Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to repair a flawed junction where its Blue Line and Expo Line light rail transit routes converge.

Officials now plan to correct the track gauge slightly along 15 feet of track where the Blue Line curves to merge into Expo Line, which opened recently, before the route proceeds to Metro Center station. Track gauge on the stretch has been measured at 4 feet, 9 inches, ½-inch wider than standard gauge.

LACMTA expects the adjustment to reduce wheel conflicts with a rail frog, which has generated concerns of possible derailments. "It is safe now and we will keep it safe," said Frank Alejandro, Metro's chief operating officer, to local media. "That is our commitment to our customers and to our employees."

Cost of the repair has not been determined, but LACMTA says the work can be made relatively quickly, perhaps over the course of a single weekend.

The repair is one of three options offered to LACMTA by Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Zeta-Tech, a Harsco Rail Business unit. Zeta-Tech found that the problem was caused by a design that not in compliance with AREMA . But Zeta-Tech also noted the junction currently is safe since temporary modifications, including a speed restriction, and an ongoing inspection program have mitigated the problem.

The track alignment problem was first noticed in April 2010, when LACMTA officials discovered excessive wear and damage to wheel flanges and the pins that hold wheel assemblies to Blue Line cars.

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