CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Due to some gate crossings malfunctioning at multiple locations, there were some delays along the CATS LYNX Blue Line on Tuesday that continued into Wednesday
Three of the Blue Line's stops experienced the gate crossing issue. Those locations were in northeast Charlotte at Tom Hunter Road, Owen Boulevard and Arrowhead Road.
Due to those problems, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) closed three of its crossings to vehicular traffic until it can fix the crossing malfunction. Before those vehicular crossings were closed, trains had to stop at the crossings to make sure no traffic was coming before the train could proceed on the route.
On Wednesday, CATS said the crossing at Arrowhead Road was back in service, but closings continued at Tom Hunter Road and Owen Boulevard.
CATS said riders should expect about a five- to eight-minute delay along the Blue Line while those repairs are being made.
The Blue Line opened in 2007 and was CATS' first rail line. In fact, it was the first rapid major rail service of its kind in North Carolina. Recently the Blue Line was in the news when it came out a derailment occurred on May 21, 2022. (CATS) interim CEO Brent Cagle briefed Charlotte City Council on March 13 after finding out about the derailment just two weeks prior.
There were no injuries reported and customers were escorted off the car that derailed.
Cagle said an axle seized and the wheel stopped turning, which made it jump the track. He said it was a relatively minor incident but should have been reported to him right away as he took over on Dec. 1, 2022. He said there's an ongoing internal investigation regarding the derailment.
"I am 100% confident that CATS Blue Line, CATS rail is safe," Cagle adamantly said.
CATS is working with Siemens and the NCDOT for oversight to get repairs done as quickly -- but as safely -- as possible. The existing contract with Siemens repairs 20 of the 43 cars for an estimated $12 million but Cagle said it could be double that for the entire fleet.
“The fact that everyone in the public is riding this at a pretty constant rate, I’d say that’s pretty concerning," Ben Granger, a light rail rider said.
On April 10, Charlotte City Council has another meeting scheduled where CATS will ask the council to reconsider the contract and allow for expedited repairs. The initial contract calls for 20 cars to be repaired by July of 2025.
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