Commuter rail engine sent back to GE for repairs

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BOSTON – At least one new commuter-rail locomotive will be returned to the engine manufacturer “because of significant issues,” Frank DePaola, the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, told T overseers Monday.

Overall, DePaola said the new train engines are outperforming the older locomotives in the system. “They are much more reliable than the legacy fleet,” DePaola told the agency’s Fiscal and Management Control Board. He said the new engines travel on average more than twice as far as the older models before breaking down.

Most of the new equipment in need of fixing is being moved into a repair facility in Wareham, where the manufacturer is making repairs under a warranty, DePaola said.

“There’s a reason that you buy locomotives with two-year warranties. It does take a certain amount of time to shake them down, and we are obviously seeing things that need to be fixed and that we fully intend to hold the manufacturer accountable for under the warranty,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told reporters after the meeting. She said the MBTA is using the new locomotives on “some of the hardest routes” with longer trains and farther distances.

About 32 percent of the 961 delays recorded between June and December were related to the 40 new locomotives, which cost $222 million, according to a Boston Globe analysis of T data.

“We’re not completely pleased with them quite yet,” DePaola said. “A lot of the early reported mechanical failures were in part missteps by the operator not knowing the correct sequence of startup or shutdown.”

DePaola said there was one incident where an engine froze, and that equipment was sent back to a General Electric facility in Erie, Pennsylvania. Joe Pesaturo, an agency spokesman, said Motive Power assembled the locomotives with GE engines. The MBTA also recently purchased 75 bi-level passenger cars from Hyundai Rotem.

Written by Andy Metzger