HART Executive Director wants to move on from frog issue, but red flags are still flapping

Written by RT&S Staff
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The hammerhead cracks continue to cause concern at HART.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Executive Director Lori Kahikina said problems surrounding frogs on the light rail system are a dead issue.

Officials, however, are worried that those problems will someday rise again.

Concerns were brought to the table during a board meeting on Oct. 6, but HART leadership dug in and said it is confident in the results produced by a team of inspectors from TTCI. In the report, TTCI said the flange-bearing frogs would hold up to trains at the speed they are supposed to operate.

An employee memo, however, has been making rounds since the issue first surfaced in July. The note lists two track experts within the department that are having a problem coming to grips with the dilemma. The memo also contains other track managers and compliance officers who have expressed worry about the frogs and what they would do to train wheels. Even employees from Hitachi Rail Honolulu, which is Honolulu’s operations and maintenance contractor on the job, have concerns. Furthermore, board members at the Oct. 6 meeting wondered if HART would have to pay for added costs associated with the frogs and if Hitachi could seek compensation for those costs. Train wheels still need to be replaced.

The frogs installed in Honolulu have shorter built-in ramps than ones across the Pacific in the U.S. They also do not have to comply with Federal Transit Administration design standards for the driverless train speeds. Also, documents obtained by Honolulu Civil Beat note that voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak, the manufacture of the frogs, advised that the maximum train speed over the special trackwork should be 21 mph.

Rail on the project is currently undergoing a 90-day trail running phase.

Read more articles on track construction.

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