SEPTA: 'Significant structural defect' sidelines 120 rail cars
Updated: JULY 2, 2016 — 6:05 PM EDT
by Chris Mondics, Staff Writer
SEPTA said Saturday it had removed 120 Silverliner V passenger cars from service due to a "significant structural defect" - nearly a third of its passenger rail car fleet - and that they would remain sidelined until repairs are made.
The decision raised the prospect of considerable commuter delays when work schedules return to normal following the July 4 holiday weekend.
SEPTA spokewoman Carla Showell-Lee said the defects had been discovered since Friday and that the decision to pull them from service was made in a conference call of senior SEPTA managers. She said the agency still was trying to determine what the problem is, but that the cars were pulled after SEPTA staff observed that one or more of them were leaning off-center.
Bernard Norwood, head of the SEPTA conductors union, said he was told following a meeting of SEPTA officials Saturday that the defects likely did not pose a safety threat.
"They said it wasn't a serious problem but what they were doing is being very cautious," Norwood said.
It wasn't the first time that problems with the cars surfaced. Delivery of the cars, which began came on line in 2010, was delayed because of workmanship defects and other problems. The cars also have experienced trouble with doors opening and closing during exceedingly cold weather.
In its announcement, SEPTA said that it did not anticipate that pulling the cars would impact its light service schedule through the July 4th weekend, but the agency left open the possibility of disruptions when the normal commuter week resumes.
"SEPTA has identified a significant structural defect with its Silverliner V Regional Rail cars," said the SEPTA statement. "All 120 Silverliner V cars, which comprise approximately one-third of the Regional Rail fleet, are currently out-of-service for inspection. This will not adversely impact service through Monday July 4th, as the weekend/holiday schedules can be accommodated with the remainder of the fleet."
On any given day, some 15 percent of SEPTA's 400 passenger rail cars are offline for maintenance, upgrades and other forms of service.
Pulling the relatively new Silverliner V passenger cars from service would essentially double the number of cars unavailable to carry passengers on its already crowded lines.