Problems Not Solved For East Bay BART Riders

There will be no regular train service for BART passengers between two East Bay stations on Monday, BART officials said today.

The decision comes after two days of testing train service between the Pittsburg/Bay Point and North Concord/Martinez stations. According to BART officials, however, the testing indicated that the trains were still experiencing problems traveling through that particular stretch of the track.

More than two weeks after an electrical glitch knocked BART trains out of commission and frustrated commuters, the source of the problem continues to elude engineers.

BART formed a new team of engineers from multiple disciplines to take a look at the propulsion problem, in addition to bringing in outside experts to diagnose the issue, BART officials said.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said in a statement that the engineers found no problem with the wayside equipment and are now turning their attention to the cars themselves.

"We are looking very hard at the internal electronics inside the cars," Trost said. "Inspecting them, cleaning them, and replacing them to see if the cars are the root of the problem."

In the meantime, BART is in the process of moving the train cars that are most prone to failure and replacing them with cars that have a more robust protective system, officials said.

At the same time, technicians are working to repair the damaged train cars as quickly as possible, according to BART officials.

"We are also exploring alternate suppliers of the parts we need," Trost said, adding the agency was "cautiously optimistic" that more cars would soon become available.

The equipment problems come at a time when BART is testing the first cars of its new "Fleet of the Future," an effort to replace aging train cars with a modern fleet. The first cars of the new fleet are not expected to go into service until later this year.

Once the first cars are tested and introduced into regular service, new train cars will gradually replace older ones, a process that is expected to begin in 2017.

In the interim, Trost said BART engineers and technicians are working as quickly as possible to return to regular service. The agency has been shuttling passengers since the problems began on March 16.

"We understand our riders at Pittsburg/Bay Point are eager to get service back to normal," Trost said.

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