The Issues Faced By Honolulu’s Rail Project

Will Honolulu’s rail project be delayed again? This is a common question asked from Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) as it tries to figure out the reason for the defects on rail cars. Actually, the issue concerns the aluminium beams that comprise the structure of rail cars. Since the manufacturers have stopped production, it is very likely for 27 rail cars to be affected.

What steps are being undertaken by HART to address the problem?

HART says that they only learned about the issue last December 1 after receiving an official notice. According to HART, they will no longer accept rail cars from Hitachi unless assured of the absence of defects. The issue with the rail cars originated from the aluminium beams installed on the floor of rail car frames that were manufactured by Hitachi factory in Italy.

The problem with the aluminium beams has been traced to the process of aluminium extrusion. In the extrusion process, aluminium is subjected to heat and pressed through a mould after which the multiple seams within the extruded form are fused together when it comes out of the other side of the beam form. The defects are assumed to come from parts of the seam that were not fused together.

After a survey of the rail car shells that have been constructed, Justin Garrod of HART says that they have to determine whether there is a repair procedure that can be undertaken. If not, the likely solution will be to replace the defective materials. HART will not be responsible for repairs or replacements. Hitachi Italy has taken full responsibility for the rail cars issue.

Of the 27 cars that are already in Hawaii, 4 are already in Honolulu. However, people should rest assured that no rail car with structural failure will be put in service.

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