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Released: 12/18/2006 

Statement Regarding Disabled PATCO Train

Following normal incident investigation procedures, we have discovered that a motor failure created smoke and sparks on the outside of the first car of a three-car train this morning, causing an immediate stoppage of the train as it was crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. No smoke entered inside the train. At approximately 6 a.m., as the train was heading westbound from City Hall Station in Camden, NJ toward Philadelphia, the PATCO Train Operator noticed smoke and sparks coming from underneath the first car of the train. The operator immediately stopped the train and contacted PATCO's Center Tower Control Center to report the problem. Power was removed from the line in the area of the incident and PATCO personnel, PATCO Police and area police and fire departments were dispatched to the scene. To ensure safety of the passengers, the PATCO train operator evacuated approximately 35 passengers onto the catwalk of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The Train Operator and Supervisor began visual inspection of the train cars and tracks. Their initial inspection deemed it safe to move the train off the bridge and into Philadelphia for further investigation. Passengers were then helped back onto the second and third cars of the train. Once in Philadelphia, we further inspected the train and subsequently pulled into 8th & Market Station at 7:19 a.m., where passengers safely exited the train. There were no reported injuries. With the train now positioned in Philadelphia, we were able to conduct a more thorough visual inspection of the train cars and found no other similar situations on the other train cars. PATCO was able to safely provide service throughout the morning with only minor delays. Service was restored to normal as of 7:45 a.m. At our service levels, motor failures are unfortunate but anticipated occurrences in the industry. Each PATCO train car is equipped with four motors. For example, a typical six-car train during morning or evening rush has 24 motors. A train of that size can operate with approximately half the motors. PATCO conducts monthly service to its trains as well as mileage service every 15,000 miles to inspect the condition of each train car and its motors. In the past couple of months, PATCO has taken several steps to increase awareness of evacuation and emergency procedures. PATCO has continued to hold its responder training program for outside agencies and this year, as part of its annual re-instruction training for internal personnel, PATCO train operators were trained in the proper use of a fire extinguisher, the location of all emergency exits in the subways and how to properly evacuate a train in an emergency. Also, PATCO recently ordered safety hoods for personnel to wear when responding to smoke related emergencies. In addition, PATCO's website,, is undergoing major enhancements to improve awareness of safety procedures. The website includes an email notification program where subscribers can receive email alerts of activities affecting the line. The website also includes a scroll bar on the front page of the site that displays important train service information. There is an “Alternative Transportation” sheet on the site that provides PATCO riders with information on how to get around if PATCO train service is interrupted for an extended period of time. Most recently, we have included a visual diagram of how to evacuate a PATCO train car in the event of an emergency. More enhancements to the website are coming soon, including the ability to receive PATCO alerts on your cell phone, pda or pager, and an animated guide on evacuating a PATCO train car in an emergency. The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation and development agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, and the PATCO High Speed Line, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry.

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