Trains sidelined over cracks, Philly commuters crowd aboard

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) It may be a long hot summer for SEPTA Regional Rail passengers. SEPTA officials say it could be weeks if not months before the rail system is back to normal after a major rail car defect was found this weekend.

“It’s just running late, it’s hot and people are miserable,” said one train passenger in Suburban Station. 

Robyn Weikert, of Bryn Mawr, says her morning commute was an hour and a half longer than normal on Tuesday and the train ride home wasn’t that much better. 

“I left work early so I didn’t have to go through that again and it’s 14 minutes late already,” said Weikert as she waited for the 4:05 Paoli-Thorndale local.

She is on one of 10’s of thousands of passengers dealing with crowds, delays and confusion.  SEPTA implemented a scaled down Saturday schedule as the transit authority removed 120 "Silverliner V” rail cars from service after cracks were found in the weight bearing undercarriage beams on Friday.  Within 24 hours, SEPTA announced cracks were found in most of the new rail cars and pulled them from service.

“It could be a little worse tomorrow I wish I didn’t feel that way but I got to say it,” said Septa General Manager Jeff Knueppel. 

As officials were handing out the bad news to passengers, SkyFOX captured the defective trains being taken into SEPTA’s rail yard for inspections. SEPTA says the manufacturer Hyundai Roten has sent a team to Philadelphia to begin the investigation into what is causing the fatigue cracks. In the meantime, it’s no telling now long the repairs will take.

By 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the train platforms at Suburban Station was packed with passengers. Most trains were running late.  FOX 29 reporter Chris O’Connell took a trip on the Paoli-Thorndale local from Center City.  The train was standing room only before it arrived at the station. For Weikert who was headed to Bryn Mawr, her normal 45 minute round trip was close to 2 and a half hours on Tuesday.

“I think it’s pretty terrible. I paid for a monthly pass and in order to get to work I think I’m going to actually have to drive in and pay $20 a day to park,” she said.

Many tell us they will find other ways to get to work. Some say they are just glad SEPTA found the problem before anyone got hurt.

“I think people are going to complain about it but I just as soon get home in one piece thank you very much,” said Susan Navoa of Kimberton.

SEPTA also announced it is offering refunds and credits to passengers who have purchased monthly and weekly rail passes. Go to Septa.org for information on refunds.

VIDEO: Click here for SEPTA general manager Jeff Knueppe telling Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley this is a “very tough situation” (7:30am)

VIDEO: Click here for FOX 29’s Steve Keeley on no complaints, people took precautions, others on vacation. (7am)

VIDEO: Click here for FOX 29’s Dave Kinchen on passengers boarding fuller trains, some standing room only. (7am)

VIDEO: Click here for FOX 29’s Dave Kinchen hearing from SEPTA commuters in Ardmore. (6:30am)

VIDEO: Click here for FOX 29’s Steve Keeley with a full train in Fern Rock after seeing empty ones. (6:30am)

VIDEO: Click here for Sue Serio with the FOX 29 Weather Authority Tuesday forecast, plus the 7 day.

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