10 new BART trains expected to be in service by December

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BART’s new 10-car trains are expected to roll out by early December despite failing a key safety inspection earlier this month.

The new trains will be put into service after passing the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, inspection, which will take place either during the week of Nov. 27 or the week of Dec. 3, according to Robert Raburn, vice president of the BART Board of Directors.

BART spokesperson Jim Allison said the train cars will likely be put into service in batches of five, and there will be 10 new operative trains by the end of the year.

During the first CPUC inspection, the train unexpectedly entered a safety mode. When the train pulled into Bay Fair station, the control panels managing the doors recognized the train as a three-car train, essentially locking the seven rear cars’ doors.

“We’ve identified the problem that caused that to occur, and we’re working on a fix for that,” Allison said.

The doors are controlled by two control panels, and the circuit board for one of these panels failed in the initial inspection. According to Allison, the control panel has been replaced, and the panel software has been updated.

Raburn said if one of the circuit boards fails, the other can still manage the doors. He added that these trains are a lot more “technologically complex” than the first fleet put onto the rails in 1972.

BART’s $1.5 billion contract with Bombardier Inc., the manufacturer of the new cars, requires Bombardier to build 775 cars in total, delivering about 150 new cars per year. By 2022, BART’s old fleet of 669 cars is expected to be completely replaced.

The new cars will have three doors on each side to quicken the loading and unloading process. BART’s goal is to ultimately have 1,081 new cars, increasing the number of seats in the existing fleet by about 49 percent, according to the BART website.

“Each new 10-car train that we put in service will free up cars so that we will be able to run 10 other trains,” Raburn said. “Our passengers will appreciate it.”

The project is slated to cost $2.6 billion in total, including the Bombardier contract, sales tax on the cars and salaries for the project team, among additional costs beyond the contract.

Allison previously told The Daily Californian that the new fleet of 775 cars will be fully operational within the next five years.

“A lot of people are wondering why it’s taking us so long, but the bottom line is we need to make sure these cars are safe and reliable before we start carrying passengers,” Allison said. “We’re not going to rush the process just to take some shortcuts.”

Contact Anjali Shrivastava at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.