BART blames train shutdown on power surge

OAKLAND (BCN) -- Power surges likely caused a shutdown on BART's Pittsburg/Bay Point line Friday afternoon, and the agency is trying magnets as a possible fix, a BART spokesman said Monday.

That disruption put 22 railcars out of service, forcing riders to transfer to shuttle trains between the North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations.

Similar shutdowns happened after a rainfall, in the same area and at the same time of year in 2016. BART engineers diagnosed the problem as the result of power spikes.

"Yes, it does seem to be the same thing," Taylor Huckaby, a BART spokesman, said.

Two factors are behind the problem, he said. The first factor: "Our power configuration is designed to provide more power to trains in the hill between North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point."

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The second factor, experts determined last year, is that metallic particles from rails ground by BART crews to reduce noise cling to the underside of BART cars, causing electrical arcing.

To fix the latter issue, the agency began to vacuum the tracks, and is still doing so, Huckaby said. However, while BART is successfully vacuuming inside tunnels, doing so on open tracks sucks up little rocks "and ruins the vacuum cleaner," the spokesman said.

In response to the vacuum issue, Huckaby said, "we are amending an existing order and will install magnets on two maintenance vehicles to pull in the metallic dust."

The new technique will start in about a month, he said.

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