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VRE delays to affect p.m. commute

By Jennifer Buske

Mechanical problems on three Virginia Railway Express trains caused significant delays for commuters Wednesday morning and will affect the afternoon commute as crews reset the trains and rearrange the configurations.

VRE officials said Fredericksburg Line trains 300, 302 and 304 had major mechanical malfunctions and they are still trying to determine the cause.

"We regret that this happened and we've put as many people as we can on this to keep them operational until we can get the new equipment," VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said. "Every unit is checked and functional when it leaves the yard, but the loads are so signficant, so trying to keep up with 50-year-old equipment is more difficult than you think."

VRE has ordered 20 new locomotives to replace its aging fleet. The first one is operational. Roeber said the next two will arrive in December and should be in service by January.

Train 300 had an issue with its braking system, officials said, and was about 10 minutes late into Union Station. Train 302 arrived an hour late into Union Station because of problems with one of its four traction motors, which propel the train along the tracks. The exact problem with Train 304 is still under investigation, rail officials said, but it appears the engine overheated for an unknown reason. The train was almost two hours late into Union Station.

While it didn't experience any problems, Train 306 was almost 90 minutes late into Union Station because of the delays caused by earlier trains, VRE officials said, noting trains 308, 310 and 312 also had minor delays

Roeber said VRE opened the Metro option for all Fredericksburg riders to provide a another option to train riders for the morning commute.

This evening, VRE officials said some trains will operate with a different set of cars. The change, they said, is because they need to reorganize the fleet due to the way trains were brought in today and because they are still examining some of the mechanical issues.

Train 301 will be a six-car train instead of a three-car train, and Train 303 will operate with 12 cars instead of six. Roeber said 303 consists of trains 304 and 306, which were coupled together this morning to get into Union Station. Because the length of the train is now longer than the platform, it will have to make double stops this evening, causing some delays, Roeber said.

Train 305 will operate with five cars instead of six, Train 311 will operate with four cars instead of five and Train 313 will operate with three cars instead of four.

Trains 307 and 309 will remain the same with eight cars and six cars, respectively.

From the Post's achives:
VRE to buy new locomotives

By Jennifer Buske  | November 17, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail, Virginia Railway Express  
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All your choo-choos belong to us.

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