- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Quality-control inspectors have found asbestos in the first four of 364 Metro subway cars that are being overhauled, but transit agency officials said the cancer-causing material will not prove harmful to passengers.
In addition, the first four of 192 new 5000 Series rail cars by manufacturer CAF of Madrid will not be in service until the week of Aug. 13, more than seven months after they were supposed to have been carrying passengers, Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said.
Asbestos was found in six places in the first four Breda 2000 and 3000 Series subway cars being worked on by Alstom of Rochester, N.Y. According to Metro documents, asbestos was found inside the cars in the linoleum flooring and the flooring adhesive. It was found outside the rail cars in the heating and cooling line insulation, resistor insulation, resistor shields and battery box panels.
Alstom "did a 100-percent inspection of hazardous materials," said Fred Brink, Metro's program manager for the cars. "But we don't have any imminent concern about the asbestos because it's [not exposed]."
Mr. Brink said asbestos and wiring problems were found in another round of quality-control inspections by Alstom. The inspection was part of Metro's $328.8 million contract it awarded Alstom this year.
More problems were found, Mr. Brink said, and asbestos removal on the 17-year-old cars, which are still in service, will cost an extra $616,160.
Metro expected to have the first 26 new cars in service by the opening of its Green Line extension on Jan. 13, but this has been delayed due to problems with brakes, axles, wheels and other parts.
Mr. Brink said the rail cars also have problems with their low-voltage control wiring. The wiring problems can be found in the subway cab console, the automatic train control system, the heating and air-conditioning system, and the propulsion system.
According to Metro documents presented to the board of director's operations committee last week, Alstom inspectors found "deterioration of wire insulation" when the cars' floor panels were removed.
Replacing the wiring will cost an additional $6.3 million, Mr. Brink said. The money for the additional work is covered in Metro's contract with Alstom, as it includes a $16 million contingency fund.
With the asbestos and wiring work as well as some other small additional repairs, the modification to Metro's contract totals a little more than $7.5 million, leaving $8.4 million for other troubles that could crop up.
Mr. Brink and other Metro officials, including the chief rail operating officer, Lem Proctor, stressed that the work on the 2000 and 3000 Series cars is for the public's benefit since the cars' rehabilitation will give them another 20 years of service.
Metro has a $220 contract with CAF for the 192 rail cars, but problems with CAF's manufacturing may reduce that amount as it is penalized each day for not delivering 80 of the cars by June 30.
The CAF subway cars have had numerous technical and mechanical difficulties, which have delayed their introduction into service. Mr. Feldmann said about "91 percent of the safety certification work that needs to be done" has been accomplished.
However, Metro and contracted engineers and inspectors are still having trouble making all the various computer software work in tandem on the cars. "It's so the software can communicate," Mr. Feldmann said.
He said the first four cars will roll into service on the new five-station extension of the Green Line, where crowds have swelled to more than 38,000 passengers a day — nearly double what Metro expected.
The next 14 cars will also go on the Green Line so that all of the trains will have six cars, Mr. Feldmann said.
The remainder of the cars will be "trickled" out over the year as they are ready, being put in the most heavily used spots along Metro's 25-year-old system, which sees an average of 700,000 riders a day.

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