BART finds ‘hydrogen bubble’ defects on broken rail 

click to enlarge A broken section of rail caused major delays on May 6th for BART riders in the morning and early afternoon. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • A broken section of rail caused major delays on May 6th for BART riders in the morning and early afternoon.

The broken section of rail that delayed thousands of BART commuters earlier this month was an "anomaly" born from the manufacturing process, according to preliminary findings by the transit agency.

The 10-inch piece of broken rail had hydrogen bubbles near the surface, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost, but the agency doesn't know if that contributed to the break. BART is still performing chemical tests on the broken rail.

"The independent lab tells us there was an anomaly from the original manufacturing process," Trost wrote in an email. "Further testing must be done to determine what caused the break and if the anomaly played a role or not."

BART received 5,073 feet of rail from the same production batch as the failed track, Trost said. It was ordered in 2007 from a supplier named Progress Rail. BART also obtained thousands more feet of rail from Progress Rail in 2010, according to agency documents. That track was intended for the new Warm Springs station, as well as track along the Pittsburg/Bay Point-Millbrae line.

After the incident with the broken rail May 6, BART inspected eight locations from the same batch as the broken rail. Trost said none of the areas raised concern among inspectors.

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Bio:
Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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