Commuter rail necessarily involves a lot of moving parts. When a key part is dangerous and defective, however, safety can be compromised – raising the risk of a CTA accident.
Last December, the Chicago Transit Agency pulled from service new rail cars with fluted sides that were to have operated on L tracks. The undersides of these cars contained steel parts made in China that were so poorly made that they could have broken and caused a derailment.
A subsequent investigation raised questions about the quality control process used by Bombardier, the Canada-based company that manufactured the trains for the CTA. CTA officials acknowledged that nearly all of the steel castings that were manufactured for Bombardier by its joint venture partner in China were substandard.
The CTA believes the problem has been located, however, and was limited to a particular factory in China. There was “an unacceptably high level of failure at that one factory,” said a CTA spokeswoman.
The CTA says it has a plan to – literally and figuratively – get back on track with the project after the problems with defective parts. The agency has set a goal of May 1 to reintroduce rail cars with the new design to passenger service, with 120 in operation by June.
A lot remains to be done, though, between now and then. CTA mechanics, along with workers from Bombardier, must disassemble the rail cars with defective parts that have already been delivered to Chicago. The car bodies will be stored. But the truck assemblies must be returned to Bombardier for repairs.
Source: “New CTA train cars had dangerous flaw,” Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, 3-8-12
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