Wheels don’t fit tracks on Honolulu’s beleaguered rail line

HONOLULU — The wheels don’t fit the tracks on Honolulu’s beleaguered commuter rail project.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that the wheels of the train cars are too narrow for some sections of track that have already been laid on Oahu, and replacing them would make the cars too heavy.

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The wheels are about a half-inch too narrow to traverse the rail line’s “frogs,” where tracks cross, said Lori Kahikina, interim CEO and executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

“One solution that is being contemplated right now is maybe changing the wheels on all of the cars,” Kahikina said. “It’s a faster solution and a cheaper solution, but one drawback to changing the wheels is that you’re adding weight to the cars, and so they’re going to go over the threshold.”

Kahikina said other weight would have to be trimmed from the cars.

Replacing the tracks would hold up completion by at least a year on a project that has already been delayed several times and is massively over budget.

The project is now expected to cost $12.4 billion and won’t be completed until at least March 2031. Officials are facing a $3.6 billion shortfall.

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Construction began about a decade ago when the 20-mile line was estimated to cost $5.1 billion.

The frogs have had other problems including subpar welding and sandblasting that created cracks.

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