PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - SEPTA Regional Rail riders are in for rough commutes on regular weekdays, starting Tuesday, after a "significant structural defect" was found in the Silverliner V rail cars, which make up a third of SEPTA’s Regional Rail fleet. Those cars will be taken out of service for the immediate future.
SEPTA has said that should not impact service on weekends or holidays, like through Monday, but it’s working on contingency plans when regular weekday travel resumes Tuesday.
Click here for SEPTA’s special July 4 schedule.
SEPTA general manager Jeff Knueppe explained the problem was found early Friday morning.
Click here to watch him explain and take questions.
SEPTA maintenance workers found a slight lean in one car. It was car #812 which was “married” to another car as a two-car set. Turns out, there was a failed end of a 350-pound equalizer beam. A crack formed at one end of the beam.
For background, each car runs on two trucks. Each truck has two axles and two nine-foot equalizer beams that transfer weight to the axles on each truck.
By early afternoon, a speed restriction was enacted for those Silverliner V cars. By Friday night, all 120 Silverliner V cars were taken out of service and they still are out of service.
There are four equalizer beams per car, and eight possible locations where cracks can develop.
Only five of the 100 Silverliner V cars inspected so far do not have any cracks. These fatigue cracks are slowly progressive in nature. There will also be enhanced inspections on Silverliner V cars without cracks.
When regular weekday travel resumes Tuesday, the first few days and weeks should be the hardest.
All Silverliner V cars with cracks will remain out of service. All under are warranty. These cars arrived between early 2010 and early 2013.
The cars are built by Hyundai Rotem in South Korea. They are looking for materials and an interim fix before full replacement with a new design. According to Knueppe, even the interim fix will take time.
That means there will be car shortages in July and August.
SEPTA will use a modified Saturday schedule that was developed for weather emergencies, with additional rush hour service. Trains are expected to run about every 30 minutes during rush hour.
Full details are being developed and will be on SEPTA’s website sometime Monday. That plan is fluid and will evolve throughout the summer, according to ridership levels.
The Cynwyd line will be bussed to free up equipment.
SEPTA is trying to add parking to subway & the Norristown high speed lines. Also, it’s talking to NJ Transit and Amtrak for help.
SEPTA is encouraging Regional Rail riders to use other transit modes, including buses, trolleys and subways. Click here for details on services available to-and-from each Regional Rail station. Customers who bought weekly and monthly TrailPasses can use them for travel on these transit modes.
SEPTA is also urging customers who bought TrailPasses to hold onto them, so they can be turned in for a credit on a future pass purchase. SEPTA is developing a plan for providing fare credits.
The problem with Silverliner V cars could be a design flaw or something that happened during manufacturing. SEPTA’s Silverliner IV cars are not affected. The company alerted federal authorities and PennDOT.