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MBTA to push Korean company for answers on late trains

MBTA officials peeved over late rail cars are heading to Korea to probe Hyundai Rotem on 75 double-decker commuter rail trains that are over a year late.

A Korea-based company building 75 double-decker commuter rail trains for the MBTA is expected to give T officials the first reports on the project’s status next week – more than a year after the cars were supposed to be delivered.

According to the State House News Service, MBTA Acting General Manager Jonathan Davis said while T officials are pleased that Hyundai Rotem has finally agreed to provide the T with performance metrics – something T officials have asked the company to do for several months – he still feels the company needs to be pushed.

Davis said he plans to schedule a trip to Korea sometime this fall to speak directly with the company’s chief executive, according to the report.

“It is important for me to get over there and speak to Mr. Lee (chief executive officer) and discuss the need for them to devote the necessary resources to make this successful,” Davis told the News Service Monday.

Last month, Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey threatened to fire the company if it did not come up with a timetable for completion of the double-decker commuter cars. This week, Davis said the MBTA expects to see rail cars delivered in early 2013 – 18 months late.

T officials recently visited the company’s U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia.

“I am 100 percent committed to seeing this contract through,” Davis said.

Under the original $190 million contract signed with Hyundai Rotem, the company was scheduled to deliver rail cars in the spring of 2011. In September 2010, T officials agreed to push the timeline back, with delivery dates beginning this past January.

But there are still no new trains.

Davis and other T officials have been frustrated with Hyundai Rotem’s failure to provide metrics so T officials can track progress.

Davis said the company has never provided T officials with a “satisfactory explanation” of why the project is so delayed. The MBTA wants the double-decker trains to increase the capacity for riders.

“We think it is because of the lack of resources devoted to this project,” Davis said.

When the company’s chief executive, M. H. Lee, visited Boston a few months ago he committed to adding additional resources to the project at both the Korean and Philadelphia factories, Davis said.

The MBTA has already paid Hyundai Rotem $40 million.

“We have seen some increases, but not to the level he said he would commit himself to,” he said. “I think we have a ways to go with Rotem to make sure they provide the necessary resources to make sure they are committed to a schedule.”

MBTA officials recently spoke with officials from the Philadelphia Transit Authority, which also ordered railway cars from Hyundai Rotem. Philadelphia transit officials said they too had problems getting Hyundai Rotem to deliver on time, according to the News Service.

“They had to vigorously manage the project,” Davis said.

Once the cars were delivered, Philadelphia transit officials were happy with the quality, Davis said.

 
 
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