State lawmaker hosts hearing on SEPTA Regional Rail crisis

FOX CHASE (WPVI) -- A Pennsylvania lawmaker hosted a hearing Tuesday to find out what SEPTA plans to do to address the problem that took more than 100 of its Regional Rail cars off the tracks.

The meeting in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia was essentially a status update.

Members of the House Democratic Policy Committee zeroed in on the transit agency's recall of the cars.

State Representative Kevin Boyle asked for the hearing to determine SEPTA's long range plan to handle this problem.

Earlier this month, SEPTA lost about a third of its Regional Rail fleet after fatigue cracks were found on the equalizer beams of their newer Silverliner V cars.

The investigation into the exact root of the problem continues, but there could be multiple factors.

"There are some issues with manufacturing," said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel. "There are some design issues. We want to know whether enough testing was done on this situation."

After analysis and testing, engineers have determined the parts must be replaced. The hope is for production on those parts to begin next month.

To cut down the time, they are looking to progress two replacement options at the same time.

Regional Rail schedules have continued to evolve as SEPTA monitors where crowding occurs and adjusts the movement of its trains.

The agency has leased 28 coaches and four locomotives from other agencies and are meeting with additional providers to add more as the summer continues.

Customers can expect significant service impacts through the rest of July and into August. SEPTA expects to soon determine impact come September.

One concern raised by the panel on Tuesday is the impact on the Democratic National Convention, being held next week in Philadelphia.

Knueppel responded that SEPTA's main challenge right now is keeping up with demand during the morning and evening rush hours.

Since the much of the convention travel will happen during off-peak hours, he said, officials are not anticipating problems.
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