South Shore officials said today they anticipate emergency repairs to fix
hairline cracks found in some 1982-model passenger cars will be almost 100
percent resolved by Monday.
Problems with a mechanical assembly connecting the car body to the truck
prompted the railroad Thursday temporarily to reduce the number of cars per
train on both rush-hour and off-peak trains so an accelerated repair program
could begin. Officials said passenger safety was their primary concern.
Most rush-hour trains are typically eight cars in length. Northern Indiana
Commuter Transportation District general manager Gerald Hanas said he
believes the 120 standees on a six-car train Thursday was the worst but at
no time were any passengers left at a station.
NICTD director or marketing John Parsons said the anchor-rod assemblies on
each car were tested as part of NICTD’s 1982 fleet mid-life rehabilitation
program and were found to be without defects. However, given the 28 years of
service on the assembly some normal fatigue damage associated with age was
showing up in recent detailed inspections. If left unchecked, he added, the
cracks could have propogated and presented a derailment hazard.
Hanas said it will cost about $250,000 to make the anchor-rod repairs and
the money will come from a grant for the mid-life rehabilitation program. He
added that the typical service life of a passenger car is 30 years but due
to mid-life renewal the 1982 cars should last 35 years.
NICTD operates 43 trains in daily weekday service requiring 62 to 68 cars.
The available fleet consists of 41 of the 1982 car, each with 93 seats;
seven 1992 cars with 110 seats; ten 1992 cars with 133 seats; ten 2000 cars
with 96 seats, and last year’s new 14 double-decker cars with 111 seats
each; a few of these 2009 cars had been in limited service due to auxiliary
power-supply problems but Hanas said those have been resolved and the trains
helped relieve the loss of seats this week.
NICTD is an Indiana public agency serving Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St.
Joseph counties and carries just under 4 million passengers per year between
the St. Joseph Regional Airport in South Bend and Millenium Station at
Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.
Hanas gave his report this morning at a meeting of the NICTD board of
directors. He said the discovery of the hairline cracks was a sudden event
but the railroad was able to get ahead of it quickly and several repaired
cars are already back in service.