BART service issues to last through at least Friday

An electrical issue that has interrupted BART service between the Pittsburg/Bay Point and North Concord/Martinez stations since Wednesday morning will not be resolved until Friday or later, according to the agency.

Crews continue to work to identify the source of an electrical problem that has damaged at least 50 cars in BART’s fleet and the troubleshooting may extend into the weekend, BART officials said Thursday afternoon.

BART officials first reported equipment problems between the two stations shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday. Train service between the stations has been halted since then and buses have been transporting riders.

Train cars are experiencing an electrical voltage spike that is damaging the propulsion equipment of cars running on the tracks between the two stations, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

Field testing was done throughout Wednesday to inspect all of the wayside train control system equipment but no abnormalities were found, Trost said.

Given that the problem is electrical in nature, BART is flying in outside experts with expertise in power control and protection, and is consulting with PG&E officials to further investigate the issue.

Trost said there is “no safety risk or concern for any of the passengers,” even those riding on the train when it experiences the propulsion equipment failure.

Those on a train that encountered a voltage spike may not have even noticed because the train can continue to the end of the line before it is taken offline for repairs, Trost said:

“But we have shut down that section of track because we can’t afford to damage any more train cars. We already have a limited number of cars in our fleet.”

There are typically around 590 train cars running in BART’s fleet during a weekday morning commute. Thursday there were 534 train cars online, BART officials said.

Trains that are running should also be expected to be shorter and thus more crowded Thursday because of the number of missing cars, Trost said.

For example, BART officials said there were 11 trains shorter than usual by one car and five trains shorter by two cars this morning. Three trains never made their runs at all.

Because trains can make multiple runs throughout the day, the issue had a ripple effect systemwide even though the electrical problem was between two end-of-line stations, Trost said.

There were delays of around 10 minutes on the entire Pittsburg/Bay Point line reported earlier on Thursday.

BART train departure information can be found at http://www.bart.gov/schedules/eta..