Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Equipment flaws reported in Pittsburgh light rail vehicles

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Madrid-based CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, SA) says it is working to address problems involving loose bolts in Pittsburgh’s light rail vehicle fleet, operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania).

Certain bolts beneath new and rebuilt vehicles have been working themselves loose or coming off entirely. Investigators say the problem contributed to a minor derailment on the Pittsburgh system last August.

Winston Simmonds, Port Authority's rail operations officer, said CAF has submitted a report acknowledging the issue and recommending some minor fixes until more studies could be done. Simmonds said the recommended fixes would likely wait until after February, when engineers plan to add instruments to a train and measure precisely what kind of vibrations and forces the bolts are being subjected to.

Before then, maintenance workers will step up inspections of and needed repairs to the suspect bolts during each car’s weekly inspection.

CAF's North American subsidiary, CAF USA Inc., is headquartered in Elmira, N.Y., also the site of its primary manufacturing facility on the continent. A spokeswoman in the company's Washington, D.C. press office declined a request for additional comment by Railway Age on the matter.

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