Gear problem puts the brakes on R160 delivery


These will have to wait. (Photo by flickr user craigshadow2007)

Surprise, surprise! A contract issued by the MTA will not be fulfilled on time because of a mechanical problem. This time, a whole bunch of R160 cars won’t hit the tracks on time due to a gearbox defect, according to the Daily News. Pete Donohue has more:

NYC Transit stopped putting new R160 model subway cars on the rails shortly after they arrived from the assembly line after a gearbox defect was detected about two weeks ago, transit officials confirmed.

The agency won’t put the high-tech cars – and hundreds more yet being built – into service until a fix is designed and approved by the agency, officials said.

Under a $950 million contract awarded to two manufacturers that joined forces, a total of 660 cars were to be in service by May, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority documents. Now, it looks like it will be late this year, or early next year, before the full allotment is shuttling straphangers from station to station.

Of course, officials from Alstom Transport, the company responsible for the new cars, declined to comment. Meanwhile, the MTA says they are pleased with the cars currently in use. Those do not suffer from the gearbox defect and will not be taken off the rails. The losers then are those folks along the N and Q lines who were due for new cars sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, this defect is just another issue of an MTA partner failing to fulfill the terms of a contract. Already this year, we’ve seen stories about problems with the MTA’s security camera project and its bus arrival board project. We know that implementation of the arrival boards on the L line has been fraught with delays and implementation problems.

At some point, the MTA should take a public stance here. It’s simply not acceptable for all of these companies to miss deadlines set forth in contracts. Over the next few months, the MTA is going to put out a text message alert contract, and Rick Bowen, one of the unsuccessful bidders for that deal, said on this site yesterday that the MTA’s demands “may not be technically possible.” If the MTA is serious about getting more funding and delivering more service, it must show more responsibility with their preexisting contracts, unforeseen mechanical problems or not.

Categories : MTA Technology

2 Responses to “Gear problem puts the brakes on R160 delivery”

  1. Todd says:

    This is ridiculous. I thought contracts were legally binding documents? Where is the responsibility?

  2. Scott C says:

    This problem is not nearly as bad as it sounds. It only effects the R160B’s (being built by Kawasaki) with Siemens propulsion. Half of the R160B’s were built with Alstom propulsion – these have been delivered and are in service. The second half of the R160B’s with Siemens propulsion are the ones with the gear problem (which is leaking oil from the gear box). Should be an easy fix. This is likely not the builder’s problem but the supplier of the gearbox. Once it is resolved, the cars will be back in service. The R-160A’s being built by Alstom are not effected.

    Remember, the entire R160 primary order was to have been delivered by now but is behind schedule because several kinks had to be worked out first. The wisdom of the delay to get things rights is evident as the R160s in service currently have a mean distance between failure of over 300,000 miles (I think it is actually at 420k).

    The reason the MTA doesn’t harshly enforce contract penalties on the car builders is that there are only 3 left – Kawasaki, Bombardier, and Alstom. If you piss one of them off, they won’t bid to build cars which will mean higher costs since there is less competition.

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