Extent of problems with MBTA rail cars in dispute
BOSTON (AP) — MBTA officials and unions representing the transit agency’s rank-and-file workers are disputing the seriousness and extent of problems that have prompted repairs to its new fleet of commuter rail cars.
Employees who work on the commuter rail cars say they are rife with problems, such as faulty heating and air conditioning units and door motors, poorly constructed undercarriages and issues with brakes and the software that controls signal communication in the cab.
“In my 40-some years of railroad experience, we’ve never seen problems like this,” said Tom Murray, president of the local chapter of the Transport Workers Union of America.
But management of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the manufacturer say the problems are a normal part of introducing new, more technologically advanced cars into the system and are easily addressed.
“Railroad coaches are not like new autos that a buyer drives off the lot,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/1mWQQNv ). “Modifications are made as necessary. ... This is standard operating procedure throughout the transit industry.”
Harry King, a spokesman for Hyundai Rotem, the South Korea-based contractor that delivered the new cars 2 ½ years behind schedule, said the company has invested significant resources and sent 15 full-time staff to a T maintenance facility to tackle the issue.
“These problems have either been resolved or soon will be,” he said.
The MBTA paid $190 million for 75 cars, 32 of which have already been put into service. Some have yet to be delivered.
The T’s contract with Hyundai Rotem says the company is responsible for paying for all repairs and maintenance work in the first two years after the cars officially enter the T’s fleet.
The problems have caught the attention of the Federal Railroad Administration, with officials there say they are monitoring the situation.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com