Inside Memo Reveals Listing Of Consultants Involved About Honolulu Rail Monitor Format


A number of consultants throughout the totally different teams answerable for Honolulu’s transit tracks have robust misgivings about their uncommon crossing design, echoing the issues {that a} former challenge advisor raised this summer season, in keeping with a newly launched inside metropolis memo.

Usually, rail transit programs solely make restricted use of the kind of crossing level that’s being put in on Oahu, identified within the trade as a “flange-bearing frog,” in keeping with the June 9 memo written by an worker on the metropolis’s Division of Transportation Companies.

Nonetheless, the Honolulu Authority for Fast Transportation is relying virtually totally on flange-bearing frogs because it builds the rail line throughout Oahu’s southern shore.

“We’re merely at a loss on how this complete scenario has developed,” the DTS memo states. “HART is doing one thing none of us have ever seen earlier than. Now we’re involved that we’ll inherit their downside that may price the taxpayers tremendously for years.”

Rail construction at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Crews work on the observe and crossing factors close to the Honolulu airport. The system’s uncommon use of flange-bearing frogs at these crossing areas has a number of events answerable for the system’s wheels and tracks involved. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The memo forewarns that strategy – and the very slim observe tolerances that accompany it – will trigger a upkeep nightmare going ahead.

HART launched the interior metropolis doc on its web site forward of a board dialogue on the matter slated for Thursday.

It’s not clear who wrote the memo. DTS is poised to take management of rail’s operations and upkeep as soon as the primary 10 miles and 9 stations open. The company’s director, Roger Morton, was unavailable Tuesday for remark.

The memo lists DTS’ senior operations and upkeep supervisor, Steven Bose, and its observe compliance officer, Yifeng Mao, as among the many six inspectors, managers and compliance officers engaged on observe points who have been “stunned” to see HART use that frog design.

All of them have expressed their misgivings about utilizing the flange-bearing frogs on rail’s mainline observe, in keeping with the memo.

Three of the these listed work for Hitachi Rail Honolulu, which is constructing the rail line’s signaling, communications and driverless trains for HART and the town.

One of many Hitachi managers known as the suggestion that they change the frogs “the neatest factor he has heard since he has been on the island,” in keeping with the memo.

The ultimate person who the DTS memo lists is David Walker, a rail trade veteran who labored on the Honolulu challenge as a observe advisor with rail contractor Stantec till February. Stantec reassigned Walker again to the mainland U.S. after he repeatedly insisted to HART that it swap out the flange-bearing frogs with the extra generally used tread-bearing frogs.

The change, Walker asserted, would save monumental sums of money in long-term upkeep. It could additionally keep away from system malfunctions and cut back what he described as a really slim probability of derailment after a number of years in operation.

In July, the native rail company dismissed Walker’s issues in an announcement to Civil Beat as “the opinions of 1 particular person” that didn’t mirror the views of his employer.

Walker has since retired.

HART Government Director Lori Kahikina declined via an company consultant Tuesday to touch upon the newly launched memo, citing the board’s pending dialogue.

David Walker speaks to Marcel in the conference room at the Civil Beat office.
Former rail advisor and observe professional David Walker raised lots of the similar issues detailed within the newly launched DTS memo. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

It’s not clear whether or not she or anybody else at HART had seen the DTS memo when Civil Beat requested about Walkers’ issues earlier this summer season.

Walker has mentioned that the rail company knew that others engaged on the challenge shared his misgivings with the crossings and the upkeep and potential security challenges they posed.

“These upkeep tolerances are too restrictive and unmaintainable,” the June memo states.

The DTS writer additional says they’ve “zero confidence” within the frogs’ capacity to carry out as wanted, and “thus we’ll see many pace restrictions and our clients will endure undesired delays.”

The memo additionally states that 67% of prepare derailments happen at change factors, and that “we’re heading down a path that nobody has ever finished earlier than” based mostly on the frog design and speeds concerned.

It recommends changing lots of the already put in flange-bearing frogs with the usual tread-bearing ones utilized in different rail transit programs. Tread-bearing frogs assist the primary floor of a wheel, whereas the flange-bearing frogs utilized in Honolulu assist the wheel’s bigger edge.

“The results in not transferring ahead with the substitute of the turnout FBFs (flange-bearing frogs) are too nice for DTS to incur particularly with the system opening months away,” the company’s memo states.

The feedback from DTS and Hitachi largely mirror Walker’s personal conclusions from when he labored on the challenge individually for Stantec.

Pumping The Brakes?

The memo’s launch comes amid HART’s trial working part, which have to be efficiently accomplished earlier than passenger service alongside the road’s western 10 miles can start.

That trial began in late August and can final a minimum of 90 days. Town now goals to launch that much-anticipated interim rail service early subsequent yr.

Stopping to interchange the frogs with the extra normal and extensively accepted design may push that opening again about one other yr, Walker estimated Monday.

Any such change in frogs would additionally come after HART and the town spent nicely over $500,000 on an outdoor advisor, Transportation Expertise Heart, or TTCI, to confirm that Honolulu’s driverless trains may run safely over the prevailing frogs on the speeds wanted.

“That’s why HART doesn’t wish to do it proper now,” Walker mentioned Monday.

Plus, with a purpose to use the prevailing frogs, HART has already began to interchange the trains’ wheels with wider, custom-designed ones that may match Oahu’s distinctive observe structure. It’s not identified how a lot the substitute wheels will price, and it hasn’t been decided whether or not the town or Hitachi can pay for them.

Rides ‘Getting Worse, Not Higher’

The DTS memo says a number of the metropolis company’s most urgent inquiries to TTCI relating to its evaluation of the frogs “have been merely disregarded” by the advisor.

Particularly, DTS wished to know why the Colorado-based advisor didn’t take into account an FTA-accepted system used to calculate how lengthy the frogs’ built-in ramps ought to be.

Primarily based on that system, developed by one other rail trade agency, Transit Cooperative Analysis Program, Honolulu’s frogs are too brief and steep. It’s a problem that Walker raised this summer season.

The model of the memo launched by HART consists of responses from TTCI. The advisor mentioned that it did take into account the town company’s feedback for its ultimate report however it “didn’t use all DTS recommendations.”

“TTCI was not requested to design the frogs nor advocate an optimum ramp fee” for them, the advisor wrote.

Walker described that remark as very telling.

“They’d a really slim scope to go by, and by that slim scope they may solely come to at least one conclusion,” he mentioned, which was to clear use of the frogs on the desired prepare speeds.

The memo additionally raises what it calls “new experience high quality issues.”

Throughout check rides in Could, DTS personnel encountered “noticeable and at occasions uncomfortable side-to-side prepare motion” alongside the primary observe, in keeping with the memo.

“I don’t recall our earlier prepare experience … being this dangerous. I additionally don’t suppose it is a security concern,” the DTS worker mentioned. Nonetheless, they did suppose it could trigger wheel and observe upkeep points.

“Evidently because the system is carrying in with the newly reduce (wheels), it’s not carrying in a steady means,” the memo provides, “and the side-to-side movement and resultant put on is getting worse, not higher.”

TTCI responded that the uncomfortable movement in the course of the experience is a results of the system’s tight gauge issues, separate from the frog points.

Walker agreed. The movement points will persist even when the frogs are changed, he mentioned Monday.

Board Needs Extra Particulars

It’s not clear what prompted the HART board to take up the frogs matter throughout its newest Challenge Oversight Committee assembly.

Nonetheless, in July, the company’s board chair, Colleen Hanabusa, informed her colleagues she was stunned to be taught of Walker’s issues after studying his separate memo on the frog saga within the media.

HART CEO Lori Kahikina
Lori Kahikina: DTS was “in settlement” to maintain rail’s current frogs. David Croxford/Civil Beat/2022

“I’m going to ask that we as a board get this type of data to us,” Hanabusa informed HART workers.

In subsequent conferences, Kahikina has reported that the frog points have been mounted.

She has declined requests to debate the matter, though she and HART Deputy Director Rick Keene fervently dismissed Walker’s issues as unfounded on native radio discuss present host Rick Hamada’s program as soon as they grew to become public.

“This particular person that’s being touted as a whistleblower … he simply didn’t just like the joint choice that every one the sensible individuals within the room” made, Kahikina informed Hamada. “We’re not handing an O&M (operations and upkeep) nightmare to DTS. They have been in settlement with the choice” to in the end transfer ahead with flange-bearing frogs.

The board’s dialogue on the newly launched DTS doc shall be held 9:30 a.m. Thursday at HART’s board room on the primary flooring of Alii Place.

Learn the memo right here:


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