Shortage of train cars could delay Expo and Gold lines

Installing Expo Line tracks in Cheviot Hills.

Work on the westward expansion of the Expo Line could be done in time for trains to roll into Santa Monica in December 2015. The Foothill extension of the Gold Line could be done early in 2016. But it's looking like there won't be enough rail cars available to open both the extended Expo and Gold lines and run them at full capacity. This is a good time to remind riders that Metro gets its light rail cars in Japan, for reasons explored in this story at ZevWeb. Excerpt:

Metro is so concerned about the problem that it’s dispatching a delegation to the manufacturer’s headquarters in Japan later this month in hopes of finding a way to speed up production—a tall order for a company that the agency acknowledges is on track with the aggressive schedule mutually agreed to under its contract.

So, with a likely initial shortfall of about 50 train cars, the issue presents some tough decisions for Metro, all of which are likely to be unpopular with the traveling public. It could delay the new lines’ openings, operate them with shorter, more crowded trains, offer less frequent service, or redeploy cars from elsewhere in the system, thus spreading the pain more broadly.

The shortage is expected to be most severe in the first months of operation for the two new extensions, with steady improvements coming as new rail cars arrive throughout 2016. But even the prospect of a relatively short-lived disruption has been enough to strain the relationship between Metro, which will operate the lines, and the two construction authorities charged with successfully completing the projects.

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