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SEPTA gives Silverliner V update

Following news reports about issues on the Silverliner V assembly line, Luther Diggs, SEPTA’s assistant general manager for operations, gave reporters a status update on production after Thursday’s SEPTA Board meeting.

He said SEPTA was on track to bring three more cars into service ― to complement the three already serving passengers ― by Dec. 3.

But Diggs isn’t sure whether the six additional cars scheduled to be completed by the end of December will be done on time.

SEPTA has purchased 120 Silverliner V cars from United Transit Systems to replace 73 aging Silverliner II and III railcars.

But UTS has failed to meet deadlines for delivery of the new cars because of material shortages, delivery problems and issues training the workforce at the South Philadelphia plant assembling them.

Diggs said it’s too early to tell whether the possible delays next month will again push back the delivery timetable. The last car is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in September.

He also gave more information about problems on the assembly line, explaining that the wiring and cable installation problems were caused by assembly workers drilling through plates and hitting wires hidden beneath them.

Diggs also said SEPTA was continuing to work on communication problems on the three pilot cars that are in service and explained that the propulsion problems the cars were facing were caused by the cars’ wheels rotating too quickly when going up hills, creating “wheel slippage.”

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said that workers changed the cars’ software to slow the wheels down but added that adjustments might again have to be made when Silverliner Vs run as six-car, as opposed to a three-car, consist.

Separately, SEPTA CFO and Treasurer Richard Burnfield announced at the board meeting that ridership increased for the third straight month in October.

SEPTA closed the first four months of the fiscal year with a $2.7 million surplus.

Contact the reporter at acampisi@planphilly.com

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