In early 2021, it was announced that four issues had been identified relating to the wheels and/or the tracks. The four issues were:
- Incompatibility between the wheels and the “frogs” at the double crossovers, which is where trains can cross from one track to the other. The train wheels are ½” too small, which presents a safety concern when the trains go through the crossovers.
- Absence of data to justify the speeds at which trains can travel through the frogs in the tangent (straight) direction.
- Cracks in two frogs.
- Broken or substandard welds on multiple slide plates.
HART and Hitachi worked diligently to find a resolution to the wheel incompatibility issue. A highly respected independent consulting group, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TCCI), was engaged to evaluate the incompatibility issue and the recommended solution, as well as the speed that can be safely maintained through the frogs in the tangent position (straightaway). A final report from TCCI was received by HART in October 2021 that presented TTCI’s conclusions about these two matters.
Specifically, TTCI concluded that the double-crossovers could be welded in a manner that will provide a safe, temporary solution to the incompatibility issue. The replacement of all train wheels provides a longer-term, permanent solution. The welding is expected to be completed by early 2022, while the wheel replacements will begin as soon as possible, likely summer of 2022. Additionally, TTCI concluded that the trains could travel at speeds of 55 mph through the frogs in the tangent (straight) position.
The anticipated completion of the welding and the confirmation of the speed of the trains through the tangent position of the crossovers will allow the Trial Running test period to begin in early 2022. This testing period will take a minimum of 90 days.
The cracks in the frogs have been reviewed by the rail manufacturer, who has determined that the cracks are superficial and can be repaired with welds.
The broken and substandard welds of the slide plates has been resolved. Approximately 400 plates were re-welded.