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Release date: May 23, 2013

*** Press Release ***

John Haley, Director of Transit Operations of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees the Municipal Railway (Muni), today issued the following statement regarding the service disruptions to the N Judah and J Church light rail lines on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Over the last week, Muni has experienced significant delays on our light rail system due to damaged overhead wires. We deeply regret the inconvenience the disruptions caused our customers and greatly appreciate their patience.

At 2:30 p.m. yesterday, an N Judah train traveling inbound at Carl and Cole streets went through the intersection with a broken pantograph (the device on the roof of the light rail vehicle (LRV) that conducts power to the car from the overhead wire). In so doing, the LRV pulled down overhead wire and dislodged the bolted supports from the side of the Sunset Tunnel. The extent of the damage required operating N Judah motor coach shuttles until the end of service. Our review determined that the pantograph was damaged by a broken component of the overhead lines at Irving Street and 2nd Avenue. This component was replaced last night.

Shortly after 7 a.m. today, an N Judah train traveling outbound pulled down wire near Carl and Cole streets and severely damaged its pantograph. This incident disrupted rail service until 3:30 p.m., while our Operations staff inspected the entire light rail fleet and the complete system of overhead lines. Service resumed in time for the afternoon rush hour.

Both N Line disruptions impacted the J Church Line for a portion of the time because of the loss of power to the overhead lines in that area.

While the two incidents appear to be unrelated and we have determined the cause of the first, we are pursuing a rigorous review and analysis of the available information to determine how we can prevent future incidents.

Prior to Wednesday, two other incidents were caused by damaged overhead lines in the rail yard. Those components were also replaced.

Along with other preventative maintenance, vehicle pantographs are inspected weekly. Since these incidents began, vehicles have been inspected nightly. Over the course of the year, Muni’s crews inspect the more than 800 miles of overhead wires that power our trolley buses, LRVs and historic streetcars.

To aid our analysis and investigation, field supervisors will monitor LRV movements to observe any unusual occurrences.

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