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Severed cable blamed in latest TRAX outage

SHARE Severed cable blamed in latest TRAX outage

A preliminary investigation shows nine years of wear and tear may have knocked out TRAX service two weeks ago, causing major delays for commuters.

The train system experienced more problems Monday morning, but officials said this time they were better prepared.

UTA noted that its communication had improved since the first incident. Bus bridges were set up faster, carrying stranded commuters between TRAX stations, and customer service agents were dispatched to every station to inform riders of what was happening.

"We've learned from the mistakes we made," said UTA spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware.

The cable severed Monday was in almost the exact spot as the cable damaged on Feb. 25, causing similar headaches for commuters, Bohnsack-Ware said. The source of the outage was near 2800 South, a few yards away from where the light-rail line goes under I-80, and West Temple.

About 4:30 a.m. the problem was discovered when TRAX sent its daily test train out to make sure everything was working.

By 7 a.m. some service was restored. Service between 3300 South and 10600 South was running as normal. TRAX service on the University line was also running again by 7 a.m., Bohnsack-Ware said.

It took until about 2:30 p.m. for crews to get service between 3300 South and downtown Salt Lake running back at normal speed, she said. Only one train could run both northbound and southbound, causing an estimated 15 minute delay from regular service for part of the day.

The cable that severed two weeks ago was right under the I-80 overpass, Bohnsack-Ware said. UTA officials believe based on their preliminary findings that possibly the insulation on that stretch of cable wore out faster. There was no indication Monday that vandalism or terrorism was to blame, she said.

Monday's severed line happened close to the bridge but not directly under it. The cause of that break was not known Monday.

"We're working on ways to make sure it doesn't happen again," Bohnsack-Ware said.

An estimated 15,000 people ride TRAX each weekday morning.

"We apologize. We know this is a real inconvenience. It's a huge headache," she said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com