Last year the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) introduced a shiny, brand new fleet of trains for the “L” track. This was the first time, in a number of decades, that the CTA had upgraded Chicago’s public transportation system and for many Chicagoans, the new cars were a welcome relief from the creaky, old trains they were used to.
Unfortunately, the new trains apparently aren’t all they were cut out to be. It turns out that the new cars were constructed with defective parts manufactured in China. As explained by the Chicago Tribune in this article, the defective parts were found in the rail car truck assembly of the trains:
Internally defective and potentially dangerous steel parts from China that could break and lead to a derailment were installed on the cars manufactured for the CTA by Bombardier Transportation, according to the transit agency’s internal investigation.
The inferior craftsmanship found on the safety-sensitive parts in the rail car truck assembly, which supports much of a train’s weight, raises serious questions about Bombardier’s quality-control process on the new generation of CTA trains, the investigation found. The CTA is the first transit agency to purchase the cars, known as the 5000 Series. The contract for 706 of those cars totals more than $1 billion.
The defective parts were discovered during an internal investigation conducted by the CTA. It was determined that if one or more of the defective parts were to break while a train was moving, the likelihood of derailment would be extremely high, which could in turn result in serious injuries to CTA passengers on the train.
Because of the serious ramifications in the event that one of the defective parts failed, all defective cars have been recalled and the parts are in the process of being replaced. Once the repairs have been made, the cars will be returned to circulation. The expected date for this to occur is in May 2012.
Hopefully, once the trains are fixed, Chicagoans will once again be able to enjoy the new trains safely and securely, without fear of derailment and the serious risk of injury that could follow. In the meantime, Chicagoans will have to make do with the old rickety cars from the 1960s that have been reintroduced into the transit system in the interim. Better safe, albeit in a creaky old car, than sorry.