The Seattle Department of Transportation announced late Sunday night that a fix was identified and executed and the First Hill Streetcar will be back in action Monday morning starting at 5 AM — albeit at a speed-restricted 7 MPH through the stretch where the March 1st sliding incident occurred:
Prior to returning to service, the entire fleet of vehicles had a modification installed, tested, and documented individually. The modifications and operating orders have been reviewed and approved by the required safety officials. With these modifications, operating orders, and safety approvals in place, the vehicles are safe and operational for return to service.
To date, SDOT has been working diligently to resolve the issue and has developed an electrical modification to ensure power to the track brake in the event of a loss of power. In addition, SDOT and King County Metro (KCM) will implement an operating speed limit of 7 M.P.H. and two safety stops on the section of track where the issue occurred and steep gradient exists.
All streetcars from the FHS line and one car from the South Lake Union (SLU) Streetcar line were taken out of service after one of the FHS cars, 405 (Gold), had an electromechanical malfunction that caused it to lose power on Wednesday, March 1. Out of an abundance of caution, the rest of the FHS line streetcars and Car 407 from the SLU line (same model as FHS cars) were pulled from service.
The line has been out of commission since March 1st when one of the cars lost power and slid more than 2 1/2 blocks down its Broadway tracks. The incident was the latest failure for the fleet of seven cars from manufacture Inekon after problems at the Czech delayed the launch of the First Hill route by months. Seattle City Council members have asked SDOT to provide more information about the latest failure and possible financial compensation from Inekon.
SDOT said Sunday night the malfunction was caused by the “Load Contactor” a circuit breaker-like component identified by engineers early in the investigation as the probable culprit in the March 1st incident.
“SDOT and King County Metro would like to thank the public and our riders for their patience,” the agencies said in the bulletin announcing the re-start of service.