HART cannot find welders to repair tracks — Story update 10.08.21

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART)
HART cannot find welders to work on its track.

HART is having trouble finding welders for trackwork.

Officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are faced with an unusual challenge. They are unable to find any qualified welders to make repairs to their tracks. Indeed, they released a request-for-proposal recently, asking companies to submit bids by a deadline last month, and they received no bidders. The agency has put out another bid for the welding contract, hoping for better results this go-round.

According to the news outlet the Honolulu Civil Beat, HART officials are not talking to the press about the situation.

The problem seems to be that the wheel flanges on the rail cars are about a half-inch narrower than the the frogs in the rail structure where two lines cross. This makes it difficult for the train to navigate the switches in the crossover, but is not an issue when the train is traveling on straight track. However, the train speed is limited to 5 m.p.h. when going through these crossovers, which pulls the rug out from under maintaining service on schedule.

This project has suffered numerous delays, and these latest track problems are further delaying the accomplishment of a big milestone for the project, to initiate service between Kapolei to Aloha Stadium.

The agency hired the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., an arm of the Association of American Railroads, to evaluate the situation and offer solutions for mitigation, but TTCI’s report has been delayed a couple of times, and is now expected in November.

If a way cannot be found to repair the frogs, they may have to be replaced, which would be expensive and cause a significant project delay. Apparently, though, HART believes that if it can hire welders to work on the frogs, they can fix the problems. Curiously, the agency seems ready to move forward with welding repairs without waiting for TTCI’s final report.

Update, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

In response to this story, which ran on Thursday, Oct. 7, Transportation Technology, Inc., a division of the Association of American Railroads, which has acted as a consultant to HART on this issue, says their report to HART has been delivered. Here is their statement to RT&S:

“TTCI has been working closely with our partners at HART to ensure that we are meeting their needs for this project. In this case, TTCI delivered our report on schedule without compromising quality. As always, we welcome continued engagement with our customers as they work through implementation and project completion.”

For more information about this story, please check the Honolulu Civil Beat’s website.

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Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, News, Passenger, Rail News, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Track Construction, Track Structure
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