America’s Amtrak high-speed trains, Acela Express, are sidelined until earliest summer 2005. The Risks Digest Volume 23 Issue 85 posting by Monty Solomon on 21 April 2005, highlighted the technology risks this shows …
Amtrak will not be able to run any of its high-speed trains until the summer because of delays in getting replacement parts to correct brake problems on Acela Express cars. The brakes were to last 1 million miles; the current Acela fleet had about half of that mileage.
Amtrak pulled all of its 20 Acela trains out of service on Friday after finding millimeter-size cracks in 300 of the fleet’s 1,440 disc brake rotors. Each Acela train has 72 brakes. This part is unique to the Acela and there is no active production line casting them. Fewer than 70 disc brakes are currently available.
[Source: The Associated Press, article by Donna De La Cruz, 20 Apr 2005; PGN-ed]
[Amtrak had cannibalized parts from other trains to get one or two trains able to run, but quickly abandoned that effort. Risks of custom design and no spare parts… Risks of building a system that really required new tracks, rather than trying to run on old tracks… PGN]
… This same risk of “custom design and no spare parts” is certainly not rare in our local Malaysian engineering and computing scene. We certainly should be aware of maintenance needs over the usable life time of any system that we purchase or specify.
- Amtrak president faults Acela brake maker – The Associated Press on 27 April 2005. “Amtrak President David Gunn said Wednesday he believes the makers of the Acela Express trains overestimated the life expectancy of their brake rotors, forcing Amtrak to pull the entire fleet out of service for repairs … Helene Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., said the brakes’ disc face â€” or front of the disc â€” showed normal wear. What caused the cracks on the spokes of the brakes was still under investigation, which will take weeks to determine, Gagnon said.“
- Amtrak’s high-speed Acela trains sidelined until summer – by Donna De La Cruz, Associated Press writer, on 20 April 2005. “Amtrak will not be able to run any of its high-speed trains until the summer because of delays in getting replacement parts to correct brake problems on Acela Express cars, railroad officials said Wednesday … Before Amtrak’s showcase service resumes, Amtrak’s chief operating officer, Bill Crosbie, said there must be agreement on how long the new brakes will last.“
- Amtrak Acela – Trainweb’s site providing photos, travelogues and news about Acela Express.
- Acela Express – Wikipedia’s article on the train and photos.