Explainer: What SEPTA’s Inspectors Should Be Asking About Those Silverliner V Wheel Assemblies

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. |Photo: SEPTA

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. Photo | SEPTA

SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem have three possible options for returning the Silverliner V railcars to revenue service:

  • Repair the damaged equalizer bars.
  • Replace the damaged bars and attach the new ones to the existing trucks.
  • Build all-new trucks with a different equalizer bar design.

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, the first option looks like it will be ruled out. But before it can be ruled out completely, and before SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem can figure out which of the other two options to pursue, they have to determine what caused the damaged equalizer bars crack and how they developed. Read more »

SEPTA GM on This Morning’s Commute: We’re Getting There

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Two of the three trainsets SEPTA has borrowed from Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration and New Jersey Transit went into service for this morning’s commute, Day One of the new interim weekday schedule. So how did the morning commute go?

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, not bad — considering. “We’re still seeing delays and crowding on the railroad, but we’re continuing to make things better,” he said at a news conference on the afternoon of Monday, July 11th.

Knueppel said that the agency was now actually running more car-trips than on its regular weekday schedule. (A car trip is when one railcar completes a run between end points. For example, a six-car train that runs from Lansdale to Center City makes six car trips.) But it’s doing so with longer, less frequent trains of six to eight cars each, so while the total number of car trips has increased, the total number of train trips remains well below normal weekday levels. The new schedule’s figure of 574 train trips is up from 549 last week but still below the normal weekday figure of 788. Read more »

Here’s the New SEPTA Interim Weekday Schedule

SEPTA Interim Weekday Schedule

A new SEPTA interim weekday schedule went into effect this morning in hope of easing travel for Regional Rail commuters this week.

SEPTA released the schedule last night following a Friday announcement that it would add trains leased from Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Maryland Area Rail Commuter system to allot for 1,700 more seats during peak service hours.

Service from Glenside to Center City saw the most congestion last week, so 1,400 seats have been added along the line to prevent stations from being bypassed by full trains this week. The Paoli/Thorndale line and the Trenton line now have an additional train each.

Regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday service, available on the published timetables, will be in effect on weekends.

Read more »

SEPTA: Don’t Expect to See Silverliner Vs Back Before Labor Day

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel says it's highly unlikely it can put its SIlverliner V railcars back in service before Labor Day. | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel says it’s highly unlikely it can put its Silverliner V railcars back in service before Labor Day. | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

While SEPTA is working to get additional service for Regional Rail riders in place, it’s also working to get the sidelined Silverliner V railcars back in service. And at a Friday afternoon press conference, general manager Jeff Knueppel said that efforts to get them rolling again sooner look unlikely to succeed.

“More and more, it looks like a repair job that will get them back in service sooner is unlikely, but we haven’t ruled it out,” Knueppel said.

Currently, engineers from SEPTA, Hyundai Rotem, and LTK Engineering Services are both performing a top-to-bottom inspection of one of the five Silverliner V cars with no signs of metal fatigue and analyzing the damaged trucks to identify how the stress fractures occurred and what caused them. In addition to the five cars, 37 of the 240 trucks on hand have no signs of fatigue. A total of 264 of the 480 equalizer beams have stress fractures. Read more »

SEPTA to Add 1,700 Regional Rail Seats Starting Monday

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Photo: Jeff Fusco

There’s a little good news for SEPTA Regional Rail riders who have been left stranded on platforms at the morning rush: Starting Monday, you may have a fighting chance of getting on a train.

At a Friday afternoon news conference at SEPTA headquarters, general manager Jeff Knueppel announced that the agency has leased cars and locomotives from three nearby operators that will allow it to add five trains to its peak-period service.

The five trainsets will add roughly 1,700 total seats to Regional Rail service during the morning rush. Most of the capacity will go toward local service from Glenside to Center City, where the greatest number of trains have been bypassing stations with waiting passengers. Read more »

PPA: Uber Can Operate Legally During SEPTA Troubles

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The Philadelphia Parking Authority will allow Uber to operate legally throughout the coming weeks while SEPTA runs on a heavily adjusted schedule that has left Regional Rail commuters struggling to reach their destinations.

The PPA offered Uber a detente on Tuesday, according to the Inquirer, meaning the app that lets passengers hail drivers from their phones can operate under legal circumstances temporarily.

In April, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission fined Uber $11.4 million for doing business in the city without authority. Just last week, legislators refrained from voting on a bill that would fully legalize Uber services. It could be called to a vote after summer recess. Read more »

Dear Suburbanites: Stop Whining About the “Horrid” Regional Rail Conditions

You wanna see crowded? Try Japan. (Photo via YouTube)

You wanna see crowded? Try Japan. | Photo via YouTube

It seems like everyone we know who lives in the suburbs has been griping about one thing and one thing only this week. No, not the sorry state of American politics. No, not their post-Brexit stock portfolios. No, the cause du jour for everyone from Paoli to Warminster is SEPTA’s Regional Rail service. Read more »

Here’s Why SEPTA’s Regional Rail Trains Are Moving Reeeeally Slowly

Overhead wires and steel rails expand as they get hotter. So when the temperatures get too hot, SEPTA orders its Regional Rail trains to go slow. | Photo of West Trenton Line by Famartin via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Overhead wires and steel rails expand as they get hotter. So when the temperatures get too hot, SEPTA orders its Regional Rail trains to go slower. | Photo by Famartin via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Several SEPTA Regional Rail riders this morning noticed that an extra dose of aggravation had been added to their commutes: After having to show up early to get seats on increasingly packed trains, those trains then headed into Center City at a relative crawl.

One of those riders was SEPTA Media Relations Director Carla Showell-Lee.

So what caused the slowdown, Ms. Showell-Lee?

“Our operations staff confirmed that they had issued a heat advisory for the railroad today,” she responded. Read more »

The Company That Built SEPTA’s Faulty Railcars Wants Another Contract

in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hyundai Rotem president and CEO Min Ho-Lee is seen after making remarks in front of a new Silverliner V passenger train car in Philadelphia in 2010. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

It’s been just three years since Hyundai Rotem completed the work on 120 new SEPTA Regional Rail cars, and now all of them have been taken out of service indefinitely.

SEPTA announced over the weekend that it was removing the new Silverliner V cars from service after an inspector found fatigue cracks in an equalizer beam, a critical element that helps keep the railcars from tipping over. The agency then began inspecting all Silverliner Vs and concluded that the defect is structural. The problem, which develops over time through repeated stress on the cars, affects 95 percent of the new vehicles, according to SEPTA. They’ll be sidelined until the agency can figure out how to address the issue.

The Silverliner V cars were manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, a South Korean company that set up a plant in South Philly after winning a contract from SEPTA. The contract was troubled from the outset. After SEPTA selected Hyundai Rotem as the winning bidder in 2004, another business, Kawasaki, sued the agency, saying it had improperly selected a less experienced company, according to reports in the Inquirer. SEPTA later agreed to re-bid the contract, and Hyundai Rotem was selected again.

Delays plagued the process. Cars were delivered late, and Hyundai Rotem ended up paying about $13 million in late fees, which were calculated at $200 per car, per day. The Inquirer reported on work problems at the company’s South Philly plant, with widespread miscommunication between Korean managers and American workers, and workers lodging complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. Read more »

Woman Arrested for Spraying Mace at SEPTA Bus Driver in Olney

A woman was arrested for spraying mace at a SEPTA bus driver on June 5th. | Photo by Flickr user Perry Quan

Photo by Flickr user Perry Quan

Police arrested a woman for allegedly spraying mace at a SEPTA bus driver and a passenger in a wheelchair Tuesday evening in the city’s Olney neighborhood.

SEPTA officials said the incident occurred around 7:45 p.m. near the intersection of 5th Street and West Olney Avenue, along bus route 47. The bus driver stopped the bus to help the passenger in the wheelchair onto the bus, officials said, when the woman boarded the bus and claimed the driver should have stopped for her sooner. Read more »

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