Claypool's first big stumble: New CTA rail cars pulled from service

In what shapes up as Forrest Claypool's first big test in his seven-month tenure at CTA's helm, the CTA on Friday announced it was removing all 40 of the new Series 5000 rail cars from their debut service on the Pink Line. Details from the press release:

In late November, CTA inspectors working at Bombardier’s Plattsburgh, NY, manufacturing facility noticed a flaw in the quality of a casting used to create wheel bearing housings.  The casting is molded steel that is later machined—or refined—to specific specifications.

The casting was replaced and no further issues were detected until earlier this week when CTA inspectors noted a second quality issue with a casting at the Plattsburgh facility.  CTA and Bombardier immediately began more inspections and discovered issues with other castings.

The parts are undergoing rigorous testing and while the testing is not complete, CTA decided as a precaution to take the 5000-Series cars out of service until more information is gathered.

Now remember, the first set of 10 cars were delivered in April of 2010. They underwent rigorous testing on every rail line. And the manufacturer is just now discovering this "flaw"?

Interestingly, Claypool says: “This decision demonstrates an abundance of caution on our part as we work with Bombardier to address these issues.” Perahps. And perhaps more complete testing should have been done in the first place.


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  • Well, Claypool didn't even know that they were here until Emanuel said to show up at the unveiling at Midway. The only test would be if he, unlike his mentor (with regard to style of governance) Kruesi, actually says that all bugs have to be out before accepting any more deliveries, instead of buying a $1 billion lawsuit.

    As far as the year of rigorous testing, that would be under the "watchful eye" of that "transit expert" Rodriguez. But, I think we both find it incredulous that after a year of testing stuff turns up. I can see that maybe something with regard to castings might turn up at the factory, which is the stated reason for pulling the cars from service, but nothing is being said about the potentially bigger problem of stalling at Tower 18, which certainly should have been discovered on testing, and certainly before saying that the Pink Line was the first to go into regular service mode.

    People on are already talking NABI, and I am sure that all the apologists who comment here don't recognize the repetitive nature of this kind of stuff on the CTA. As Roseanne Roseannnadanna used to say, "it's always something."

  • I'm a mechanical engineer, and the sort of flaw I expect they found in these castings isn't something you'd find under operational testing for years, unless it was blatantly large. It's more likely they were randomly inspecting some parts using x-ray scanning and found more inclusions or 'holes' then should be present. Now that might cut the life of these parts in half, but they are probably designed to last 20 years until a heavy overhaul of the entire train car. So bouncing around for 20 months, while grueling, isn't going to find this.

    The Tower 18 problem caught a friend downtown for an extra hour, and I'd agree that that is both much more problematic, and should have already been seen as an issue.

  • Chicago Machine Politics at its worst raises it's ugly butt again. Why do third rate managers run such essential city services. Why! Chicago deserves better. Oh.. please don't blame the rank and file for errors of their administrators!

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    The rank & file are the ones that we, the riders have contact with.
    Just because the overwhelming majority of CTA management is incompetent, doesn't give the drivers & motormen the right to be assholes, which a large number are!
    The drivers & motormen seem to think that the riders are there for their benefit, when it's actually the other way around.

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    In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I don't know which motormen you meet on your commute, Libster, but most of the ones I meet are generally alright people. Yeah, ya get the asshole once in a while, but I guess it all depends on how you show your demeanor to others.

    Personally, I find the ones guarding the unpaid areas to be the bigger assholes, but that's just my observation.

  • I don't meet motormen in my commute, I'm usually in a different car.
    There are ones who jerk the train when accelerating or far overshoot the stop marks at every station.
    Or hit the door closing chime before the doors are fully opened.
    Or who have to open & look out the window before they open the doors. If you're riding from one end of the line to the other, that makes it five minutes longer. Because if you've stopped the train at the correct mark, then it's guaranteed that every door will open to the platform.

  • When I lived in Chicago, I found the mass transit system to be good and staff at all levels to be good. I travel to Chicago a lot and use mass transit to get around, I find CTA is much better than SEPTA

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