Digest: South Shore to lease gallery cars from Metra

News Wire Digest for Jan. 26: Safety agency says DC Metro must address bridge issues; LA Metro construction projects facing COVID-related manpower shortages
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The South Shore Line will lease 26 gallery coaches from Metra to supplement its own small fleet of the bilevel cars.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Tuesday morning rail news:

South Shore to lease cars from Metra to handle planned service increase

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will lease 26 bilevel gallery cars from Metra to handle the increased South Shore Line commuter service planned under the Double Track and West Lake Corridor expansion projects. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that, if the lease approved Monday by the NICTD board is finalized after due diligence, it will pay Metra about $3.5 million annually to lease the cars for 15 years. The cars in question, built between 2004 and 2006, will be refurbished by Metra before coming to the South Shore, and are of the same type as the South Shore's own gallery cars. At Monday’s meeting, the board also approved a $17.1 million contract for engineering firm WSP to manage construction of the Double Track project, which will add a second mainline track between Gary and Michigan City, Ind.

Metrorail safety agency calls for actions to address DC Metro bridge issues
The independent agency overseeing DC Metro safety says the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority must take 12 corrective actions to address the way Metro’s bridges are inspected and maintained. WJLA-TV reports an audit by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission found 29 of the transit agency’s 148 bridges have a significant need for rehabilitation, said some inspections were reusing information from years-old reports or were conducted with binoculars rather than close-up examination, and doesn’t know how much weight some bridges can handle. Metro has 45 days to respond and propose solutions. The audit report is available here.

LA Metro contractors see upswing in COVID cases, thinning manpower
Contractors on five LA Metro rail construction projects are facing increasing manpower challenges because of the increase in COVID-19 cases. In a post on its Source blog, Metro notes positive tests among construction workers went from seven paces in October to 35 in November to 88 in December. “Metro’s contractors have informed the agency that they’re doing their best to mitigate worker absences,” the blog reports, “but it’s getting increasingly difficult.” The agency says it does not yet know if the COVID-19 cases will delay projects, but says it will likely see impacts if the surge in COVID cases continues. Metro has previously reported COVID-related absences among its workers have led to disruptions in rail and bus service [see “Digest: Investigation begins after CN worker killed …,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 7, 2021].

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