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Mecklenburg Commissioner Altman desires ‘responsibility’ for CATS’ action to Lynx derailment


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Mecklenburg Commissioner Leigh Altman said Thursday that the Charlotte Area Transit System’s action to a Lynx Blue Line derailment in 2015 is an “outrage” which she would like to know who has actually been held liable.

Altman, who is likewise a member of the Metropolitan Transit Commission, the oversight board for CATS, said she is shocked that the transit system didn’t alert the general public about the mishap on May 21.

“I am incredibly disturbed and disappointed,” Altman said. “And I have a lot of questions. I can not fathom that choice and it is an outrage frankly.”

Altman’s declarations contrast with the absence of issue revealed Monday by a lot of Charlotte City Council members. Although council member Renee Johnson said she was disturbed that she hadn’t been outlined the mishap, other council members decreased to ask concerns about what took place.

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The derailment took place after a Lynx train’s wheels ended up being removed from the track due to a defective axle bearing. The train did not topple, and nobody was hurt.

But interim CATS Chief Executive Brent Cagle said the axle’s failure was “catastrophic” and the mishap might have been even worse. CATS is making repair work to all 42 Lynx lorries on a turning schedule. The repair work might extend into 2025.

While the mishap took place in May, CATS did not reveal the derailment to the general public. It said on Twitter that day that there would be hold-ups on the Lynx Blue Line since of a train “malfunction.”

Cagle took control of CATS on Dec. 1 for John Lewis. He informed City Council Monday that nobody informed him about the derailment or the transit system’s examination into what took place. Cagel said he discovered the issue when he got a letter from the North Carolina Department of Transportation on Feb. 6.

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Altman kept in mind that CATS has actually had many functional issues over the previous year, such as not having enough bus drivers. But she said the absence of disclosure over the derailment is the most substantial.

“Of all of the problems that CATS has had, this is the worst,” Altman said. “Because safety has got to be always the first duty. And to know of a defect and the possibility of a derailment and to not take steps is beyond the pale.”

Two weeks after that Feb. 6 letter, the DOT composed CATS once again, after examining the transit system’s strategy to run the Lynx securely.

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It composed that CATS’ safety strategy was “’unclear, insufficient and not acceptable.” The DOT then directed CATS to carry out a 35 miles per hour speed limitation on all Lynx trains.
That speed limitation entered into impact on Feb. 17. CATS did not inform the general public that it was slowing the trains down. On Monday, when Cagle notified council of the speed limitation modification, he did not discuss that CATS was required to do it. Nor did he discuss that the state likewise bought CATS to eliminate its 8 highest-mileage lorries from service.

Lynx trains have a leading speed of 55 miles per hour.

Altman said she trusts Cagle’s efforts after he discovered the mishap 5 weeks back. But she would like to know more about what other CATS authorities did or didn’t do.

“I don’t see where there has been accountability for any of that,” she said. “I don’t know who those people are. I don’t have an explanation for their actions, their failure to act.”

Lewis, the previous CEO, now works for a transit seeking advice from business. He didn’t react to an email sent by WFAE.

A city of Charlotte representative said that City Manager Marcus Jones didn’t learn about the derailment up until Cagle discovered it in early February.

Two weeks back, Allen Smith, the second authorities at CATS, was put on administrative leave without pay. It’s uncertain why he was placed on leave.

The DOT’s correspondence with CATS in February and March raises concerns about how the city dealt with the consequences of the examination.

On Dec. 7, the DOT said it informed CATS to get in touch with vehicle maker Siemens for a status update on the axel. The DOT letter doesn’t state when CATS initially connected to Siemens to identify what failed.

On Feb. 6, the DOT informed CATS by letter that it has 2 “Unacceptable Hazardous Conditions.”

The initially is that CATS was running Lynx lorries that were previous Siemens’ advised schedule for reconditioning the axles. The DOT said the transit system’s timeline for repairing them was too long.

The 2nd issue was the CATS’ strategy to keep track of the axles was doing not have, according to the DOT. CATS said it would set up temperature level tracking strips on the axles; if they went beyond 130 degrees the vehicle would be secured of service.

But the state explained that CATS prepare as “limited mitigation” and having “missing documentation” and “inconsistent compliance.”

The state kept in mind that an evaluation of temperate readings revealed that one-third went beyond the 130-degree limitation CATS had actually carried out. It said a “small number” of axles had actually been changed. The state said all of those lorries were still bring travelers.

The DOT said CATS had not “adequately identified” how it would focus on axle overhauls and had actually not carried out “any form of threat evaluation or danger analysis.”

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