Flaw With New CTA Cars Prompts Their Removal

Cars from CTA’s existing fleet will temporarily replace the 5000-Series cars, and service will remain on schedule


The new love it or hate it 5000-series rail cars on the CTA are being taken out of service after inspectors discovered a problem with a wheel bearing part on a New York assembly line.

The 40 new rail cars, which are operating along the Pink Line were taken out of service Thursday night as a precuation, as CTA and officials from Bombardier Transit Corporation -- the rail car manufacturer -- further study the issue, a release from the CTA said.

Inspectors found a small number of “manufacturing-quality issues” on parts used to build the cars.

CTA inspectors working at Bombardier’s Plattsburg, New York facility noticed the flaw in the quality of a casting used to create wheeling bearing housings, the agency said. The casting is molded steel that is later refined to certain specifications.

That casting was replaced with no further issues detected until earlier this week when inspectors noticed a second quality issue with the casting, the CTA said.

Both the CTA and Bombardier immediately began more inspections and discovered issues with other castings.

The agency said the flaw was discovered at the New York assembly plant and not in any rail cars already being used in Chicago.

“The reason that we took the cars out of service is to conduct a very thorough inspection of them,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. “But at this point we’re not aware of any issues related to cars that have already been in Chicago.”

Despite the testing, the agency says service on the Pink Line will not be impacted.

Cars from CTA’s existing fleet will temporarily replace the 5000-Series cars, and service will remain on schedule.

The parts are undergoing “rigorous” testing and in addition to the inspections at the Bombardier plant in New York, all 52 rail cars already delivered to Chicago will be inspected to see if any further testing is needed.

The CTA won’t be paying for this additional work; the inspection and related work will be paid for by Bombardier as part of the contract warranty.

The new rail cars made their debut -- as a test -- in Chicago in April 2010. The agency says the cars offer seven networked security cameras, an event recorder system similar to a black box on an airplane, and sensitive door sensors that will detect obstructions better.

The most noticeable change is a new aisle-facing seating configuration which the agency says should accomodate more customers per car and allow more room for riders carrying backpacks, luggags, strollers or bikes.

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