Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UPDATE - Hyundai-Rotem problems in Philadelphia and what it could mean for Boston

This is a follow up on what I wrote yesterday.


BREDA, NEOPLAN, SIEMENS and now HYUNDAI-ROTEM - MBTA knows how to pick em

FOX29 in Philadelphia has done a follow up on the problems at the Hyundai-Rotem plant in Philadelphia where commuter rail cars for SEPTA in Philadelphia are being assembled. The MBTA cars will be built as this same plant so it is imperative for the MBTA to do something now before it is too late.

Here is a look at the Philadelphia cars

Philadelphia riders have been promised these trains but...
In a recent online apology to riders, SEPTA's general manager Joe Casey admitted the manufacturing process has not gone as planned, but Casey promises the transit authority will not accept any new railcars that do not meet their standards.

We all the problems MBCR is having they don't need this. It is important to note that MBCR only operates what the MBTA provides them so this is squarely in the lap of MBTA GM Rich Davey and the MassDOT Board of Directors.

Back in October the T showed a mockup version of the Hyundai-Rotem cars at North Station

One major difference between SEPTA regional rail and the MBTA commuter rail is that SEPTA now operates the system themselves instead of having a railroad company run it. SEPTA is also 'all-electric' instead of diesel powered. 

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company has been operating the MBTA system since July of 2003 when they took over the contract from Amtrak that walked away from it. One major advantage that Amtrak offered that MBCR can not is that Amtrak would if needed add their own locomotives to run on the commuter rail when breakdowns occurred. The biggest problem MBCR has is simply the equipment provided to them is at the end of their expected lifetime and the T has not provided new rolling stock. 

One suggestion I have for the MBTA to look at for the short term is to perhaps investigate leasing electric powered rolling stock from perhaps the LIRR, Metro-North, SEPTA or METRA (Chicago) to operate on the electric tracks in operation between South Station and Warwick, Rhode Island. If nothing else that would free up the trains currently operating on the Providence line to be used elsewhere in the system. 

Hopefully Hyundai-Rotem can solve the problems at the Philadelphia plant. The Korean company has certainly developed a fine reputation with their automobiles. I do wonder why the company chose Philadelphia for the rail plant when they have built their auto plants in the south where labor costs are lower. Paying only $12 an hour in Philadelphia almost guarantees you will not get the best skilled workers. 

All we can do is hope for the best.

1 comment:

Brett Adams said...

The Rotem cars at SEPTA are a complete disaster. The inagural run was in October 2010, and we've yet to see more than 2 sets in service a day, with frequent breakdowns.

Every new car that SEPTA receives has to get a 100 point modification because the cars are coming off the assembly line with so many defects.

If MBTA can cancel this order, they need to do so now!