CATS’ Interim CEO Addresses Light Rail Maintenance & Derailment Concerns

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A new promise to address safety concerns with Charlotte’s light rail trains.

It comes after city leaders and the public only recently learned about a train derailment nearly a year ago.

Interim CATS CEO Brent Cagle is pledging to fix the maintenance issues that led to the derailment.

Pictures just revealed, show what happened on May 21st, just south of the Old Pineville crossing.

No one got hurt, but NCDOT’s safety oversight program found “unacceptable hazardous conditions.”

“It must be addressed immediately, and ongoing, we cannot find ourselves in this situation again,” Cagle said during a meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Commission on Wednesday night.

CATS says almost all of its light rail trains are overdue for recommended axle overhauls, and that’s what led to the derailment.

“The seal broke. Water entered into the bearing and that created corrosion. Corrosion over time led the bearing to heat the axle, the axle overheated and seized or stopped turning,” Cagle said.

In response, NCDOT is requiring CATS to slow down all trains to a maximum of 35 miles per hour, in order to mitigate risk.

They say that will reduce wear and tear on axles and allow train operators time to react if there’s an issue.

Members of the Metropolitan Transit Commission raised concerns Wednesday night about why corrective actions weren’t taken sooner.

“My wife and I were on that blue line two weeks ago, and it appalls me to now that I find out a week later that we had a derailment almost a year ago and I’m ridin’ on that rail,” said Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox.

April 10th, CATS will ask City Council for $30 million to update the contract with train maker Siemens, and buy more dolly equipment to place vehicles on, so more can be sent off for repairs at the same time.

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