Metro

Philadelphia transit system woes prompt MBTA inspections

Commuters waited for an inbound train at the Chelsea platform last month.
Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
Commuters waited for an inbound train at the Chelsea platform last month.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials are inspecting two of their older commuter rail coaches made by Hyundai Rotem, after a defect on coaches from the same South Korean manufacturer prompted Philadelphia’s transit system to take one third of its fleet out of service.

But MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said workers were inspecting the two coaches out of an abundance of caution. The T’s commuter rail coaches, which were plagued with problems as they were put into service, have an “entirely different design,” he said.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority last week discovered cracks in steel beams in the suspension system, and took the 120 Hyundai Rotem coaches — called Silverline Vs — out of service to repair them. Transit officials warned of slow commutes starting Tuesday.

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The MBTA purchased 75 Hyundai Rotem commuter rail coaches in 2008 for $190 million, but Pesaturo said they do not include the “equalizer beam” that is being inspected for cracks in Philadelphia.

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“Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the MBTA is performing truck inspections on two of the older coaches in the fleet to ensure there are no issues,” he wrote.

The older coaches were chosen for inspection because they have been used the most, according to the T.

Hyundai Rotem, which is based in South Korea, had no US experience in building commuter rail coaches before winning the contract for 120 coaches in Philadelphia. It won the MBTA contract shortly thereafter.

The T’s own experience with its Hyundai Rotem coaches was accompanied by years of headaches. The coaches were delivered 2½ years late, and had so many problems with doors, air-conditioning, brakes, and software that they had to be shipped to a Rhode Island facility to get fitted with new parts.

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T officials have said that they may purchase new coaches from Hyundai Rotem, and Pesaturo said the proposal “remains under consideration.”

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.