BART restarts delivery of its Fleet of the Future rail cars

Feb. 17, 2022
The agency worked with the rail car manufacturer to make modifications and upgrades that have resulted in improved reliability of the rail cars.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is accepting deliveries of its Fleet of the Future rail cars after pausing deliveries in January 2021 due to reliability issues.

When BART temporarily halted the new car deliveries in January 2021, it said the move would allow Bombardier “time to take steps to improve the cars’ reliability and availability, and to alleviate rail car storage constraints at BART’s maintenance yards.”

BART explains one of the issues with the new fleet involved software in the on-board automatic train control system that would cause the cars to stop while in service. This would require the train operator to reboot the system resulting in a five-to-10-minute delay. Additionally, BART noted that stopping trains under wet or rainy conditions could cause the development of flat spot in the wheels of the cars. While neither issue was a safety concern, BART says the impacts to service reliability and car availability were of concern.

BART worked with the rail cars’ manufacturer to make the necessary upgrades and modifications during the pause in deliveries. The transit agency says those modifications coupled with software improvements have improved the overall performance of the new cars.

“While stringent contractual reliability requirements have not yet been fully met, the progress is at a stage where BART has resumed accepting new deliveries,” the agency said.

BART has received 308 of the new rail cars with 219 currently in service as of February 2022.

Bombardier was awarded a contract in 2012 for 775 Fleet of the Future rail cars, which are quieter and more comfortable and feature advanced air distribution systems and an extra set of doors for faster boarding. The first of the Fleet of the Future rail cars entered service with an inaugural run from MacArthur Station in January 2018. In November of the same year, BART’s board authorized negotiation for sole source procurement of additional cars with options allowing up to a total of 1,200 new cars under the contract with Bombardier.

Amid these developments, Alstom started the process to acquire Bombardier in February 2020; a deal that was not finalized until February 2021.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.