Repairs for LYNX trains to cost $6.5M

CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None — Charlotte's LYNX trains need a multi-million dollar overhaul and it has to be done thousands of miles away.

LYNX opened in 2007. Now, just over four years later, the transit agency said almost all of the trains are closing in on 300,000 miles. That means they're due for major maintenance. In fact, it's their first call for extensive repairs for brakes, suspension, and axle gears.

CATS has an army of mechanics in its South Boulevard site. They do plenty of routine maintenance every day, but they don't do the massive work the trains need now. So, CATS crews plan to ship 16 of their 20 trains to a Siemens plant in California.

They said that is the only qualified company that bid on the work.

CATS said it will take the trains apart, put the components on pallets, and haul them to the west coast on big rigs. The cost for maintenance and shipping combined is roughly $6.5 million.

That's just over $400,000 for each train.

Riders like Blair Bryant said people may not think about it often, but light rail is constantly running and that's a lot of wear and tear.

"It's amazing. I mean, I'm sure it's quite a project for the maintenance and all that," he said.

While the cost to ship the cars across the country for repairs may seem extreme to some, it pales in comparison to the cost of buying new cars.

The 16 original trains which need the work now cost more than $50 million when they were purchased four years ago. CATS added four more trains just a few years later and the price had already gone up.

CATS said it will swap the trains in and out in such a way the LYNX schedule won't change during the repair process.

Previous Stories: December 20, 2011: Blue line getting $18 million makeover December 13, 2011: Plans for Blue Line Extension moving forward November 11, 2011: 10-mile streetcar would come with hefty price October 4, 2011: Plans for light rail to Mooresville gain steam