San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is again accepting deliveries of its new Fleet of the Future (FOTF) railcars, following a Jan. 8, 2021 pause due reliability issues.
The suspension was expected to last about 12 weeks while the manufacturer addressed why software in the onboard automatic train control system was causing the new cars to “routinely stop while in service” and “not move until after the train operator reboots the system, resulting in a five-to-ten-minute delay,” BART reported on Dec. 29, 2020, when it announced the suspension date.
Car availability was another issue to be addressed, BART said at the time. When “trains are stopping under wet or rainy conditions, the cars’ wheels can develop flat spots,” requiring the cars to be removed from service for wheel resurfacing, the transit agency explained.
“While neither issue impacts the safety of existing FOTF cars currently in service, they can impact service reliability and car availability,” BART said at the time.
BART and the manufacturer—originally Bombardier Transportation and now Alstom, which acquired Bombardier on Jan. 29, 2021—have now “made necessary upgrades and modifications,” BART reported during a Feb. 16, 2022 update. “These changes, along with several software improvements, have significantly improved the overall performance of the new cars.
“While stringent contractual reliability requirements have not yet been fully met, the progress is at a stage where BART has resumed accepting new deliveries.”
In a Feb. 18 statement to Railway Age, Alstom said: “Alstom values its partnership with BART and we are proud to be building this new generation of rail cars that incorporates environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient technologies. Alstom is fully focused on providing and supporting high-quality rail cars for BART and we are pleased that BART is once again taking deliveries of Fleet of the Future cars. Resumption of deliveries is a demonstration of our continued commitment to address any issues and ensure that we meet customer expectations and that these state-of-the-art cars provide the highest level of performance for riders who depend on the BART system every day.”
BART has received 308 of the 775 new cars on order; 293 have been certified for service; and 219 are currently in service.
The transit agency placed its first order with Bombardier in 2012, for 410 cars, and exercised an option for an additional 365 in 2013. They are replacing legacy cars built by Rohr Industries or Alstom. The new cars started entering revenue service in 2018.