In Wake Of Train Fire, Eastbound BART Passengers Face Major Delays

11:56 AM: BART trains on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line are running on time again after early morning delays caused by the aftermath of a fire that burned underneath a train at the Orinda station during Wednesday evening’s commute.

The fire caused major BART delays Wednesday, and trains were initially single-tracking through the Orinda station without stopping. A bus bridge was set up between the Orinda and Lafayette station.

Meanwhile, traffic backed up on state Highway 24 as motorists gawked at the smoke billowing from below the BART train.

BART was unable to remove the train from the tracks overnight, and this morning, commuters faced delays of up to 30 minutes on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line as the single-tracking continued.

At 6:30 a.m., the track that had been blocked was cleared and both platforms at the Orinda station reopened. Trains were back on schedule by about 7:30 a.m., according to BART.

The fire was reported at 6:08 p.m. Wednesday. Passengers on the train were evacuated at the Orinda station.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said it appears the fire started when a motor reactor under the train somehow overheated. She said it is still unclear what caused the problem.

When the overheating occurred, the bolts that held the motor reactor in place failed, causing it to fall onto the tracks when the trains were later uncoupled, she said.

The reactor weighs more than 1,000 pounds and it was a challenge to get it off the tracks, Trost said. Early this morning, a torch had to be used to break it apart so it could be removed, she said.

A BART investigation to determine the cause of the malfunction is expected to take three to four days.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

7:38 AM: BART trains traveling in the Pittsburg/Bay Point direction are experiencing delays of up to 30 minutes this morning due to an equipment problem on a train Wednesday evening, BART officials said.

As of 6:30 a.m., there is a 15 to 30 minute delay, according to BART officials.

BART trains will single track through the Orinda station this morning due to a mechanical problem that caused smoke to billow up from beneath a Pittsburg/Bay Point-bound train carrying passengers Wednesday evening, officials said.

Smoke was reported on the train at 6:08 Wednesday night and the train stopped at the Orinda station and went out of service, BART police Lt. Tyrone Forte said. Passengers were evacuated.

Firefighters arrived at the station at about 6:20 p.m. to attend to the fire, Forte said. Smoke was still visible coming from the train as of 6:40 p.m.

The incident caused major delays along the Pittsburg/Bay Point line and the San Francisco International Airport line, BART officials said. Trains were running through the Orinda station without stopping and a bus bridge was set up between the Orinda and Lafayette stations.

The incident also caused heavy traffic backups along eastbound state Highway 24 through the Caldecott Tunnel as onlookers watched the train smoking along the platform, which sits between the two sides of the highway.

At about 3:50 a.m. BART officials announced that the train remains on the tracks at the Orinda station this morning and that crews are working to cut through a 1,600-pound metal motor reactor, which must be removed from the tracks before the train can be moved. The disabled train will then be moved to a yard for repairs.

BART trains will be able to single track through the Orinda station and will be picking up passengers this morning, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

Trost said the smoke was coming from a semiconductor box but did not say why it began smoking. She said it is not related to a reenactment held earlier today of an accident that killed two workers on the tracks Saturday.

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