SEPTA has put its first Silverliner V cars back on the rails two months after it discovered cracked and broken equalizer bars.
A plasma cutter at the PennFab plant in Bensalem, just outside Philadelphia, easily slices through the battleship-strength steel, cutting out 10 equalizer bars per 4,000-pound sheet of steel.
SEPTA general manager Jeff Knueppel said workers are at it 12 hours a day and weekends as the effort to repair the cars continues.
“Three hundred forty beams have been cut, 210 have been sent for machining, 111 have been machined, total finished beams is 23,” he said.
These bars are different from the original, with bolts and a “saddle” connecting the bar to the train carriage, Knueppel said.
“Before there was a welded foot attachment at the very end, it was notched into the beam, a notch brings more stress,” he said. “By eliminating the weld, those kind of issues should make this beam a good substitute.”
The repairs could take two months to complete. But with rented trainsets, full service is expected to return sometime in early October.
Officials still haven’t calculated exactly how much the repairs and train rentals will cost. There’s also the issue of lost revenue as some commuters found other ways to get to work. The cars are still under warranty, so the manufacturer Hyundai-Rotem will pay much of the expense.
In the meantime, starting next week, SEPTA will offer express bus service from some regional rail stations near Philadelphia. The idea is to get regional rail riders to grab a bus and transfer to the Broad Street or Market Frankford lines. As an incentive, those using the bus/subway alternative will pay the usual bus fare, not a regional rail fare.