Extensive light rail maintenance targeted for 2021; Cost is $30-$50 million

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Area Transit System CEO John Lewis said extensive midlife maintenance on the city's original light rail vehicles is projected to start in late 2021 and cost between $30 million and $50 million.

Mechanical issues have caused light rail vehicles to run behind and the city announced Tuesday that its aging fleet is going to need extensive maintenance.

Charlotte Area Transit System CEO John Lewis said extensive midlife maintenance on the city's original light rail vehicles is projected to start in late 2021 and cost between $30 million and $50 million.

Mechanical issues have caused light rail vehicles to run behind and the city announced Tuesday that its aging fleet is going to need extensive maintenance.

When the Blue Line Extension opened, CATS thought it would take 57 minutes for the train to get from end to end. Due to additional safety enhancements, geometrics and how fast the trains can run, Lewis said it takes 63 minutes.

Spare vehicles have been added to try and guarantee passenger pickup every 7.5 minutes during peak times. The spare vehicles are partly to blame for the mechanical issues that have happened at least 39 times the past six months.

In April, CATS said trains will arrive at nine-minute intervals during rush hour. That schedule will likely remain in place until all work on the old vehicles is finished.

"We are going to need those spares to cover the preventive maintenance schedule rather than keep up a schedule that is unrealistic," he said.

Maintenance issues that have been plaguing light rail vehicles involve the train's steel wheels, body and electrical power system.

Twenty vehicles need extensive midlife overhauls. Two are expected to be sent to California at a time. Work lasts for approximately six to nine months. The total overhaul process is expected to last four years.

The Charlotte City Council will have to allocate money for the repairs. A contract has not been executed.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: