TRANSIT: Philadelphia transit system woes prompt MBTA inspections

July 6, 2016

MBTA officials investigate their own coaches after defects discovered on Pennsylvania trains

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials are inspecting two of their older commuter rail coaches made by Hyundai Rotem, after a defect on coaches from the same manufacturer prompted Philadelphia’s transit system to take one third of its fleet out of service.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority last week discovered cracks in steel beams in the suspension system, and took the 120 Hyundai Rotem coaches—called Silverline Vs—out of service to repair them. Transit officials warned of slow commutes starting Tuesday.

The MBTA purchased 75 Hyundai Rotem commuter rail coaches in 2008 for $190 million, though they do not include the “equalizer beam” that is being inspected for cracks in Philadelphia.

Hyundai Rotem, which is based in South Korea, had no US experience in building commuter rail coaches before winning the contract for 120 coaches in Philadelphia. It won the MBTA contract shortly thereafter.

The T’s own experience with its Hyundai Rotem coaches was accompanied by years of headaches. The coaches were delivered 2.5 years late, and had so many problems with doors, air-conditioning, brakes, and software that they had to be shipped to a Rhode Island facility to get fitted with new parts.