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RTD'S RED LINE OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE TEAMS POISED FOR ACTION WHEN SUBWAY SYSTEM OPENS

 RTD'S RED LINE OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE TEAMS
 POISED FOR ACTION WHEN SUBWAY SYSTEM OPENS
 LOS ANGELES, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- RTD rail operations and maintenance personnel are prepared to operate high-speed subway trains every five minutes when Los Angeles opens the Red Line subway, the city's second major mass transit rail system.
 The trains are scheduled to begin limited service on 4.4 miles of track between Union Station and MacArthur Park beneath downtown Los Angeles in June 1993, serving an estimated 35,000 patrons each day. And when opening day comes, John Byrd and Dave Kalasnik say RTD will be ready.
 Byrd, RTD's Red Line rail division transportation manager, has been in charge of gearing up all aspects of Red Line operations since last June. Kalasnik, RTD's manager for Red Line rail equipment maintenance, has been grooming maintenance specialists to be able to service the specially made subway cars.
 Both men say they feel a little like Olympic sprinters standing at the starting line of the big race. They've spent weeks preparing, and now the adrenaline is pumping as they wait for the official signal to move down the track -- a railroad track, in this case.
 "If the official opening of the Red Line was moved up to tomorrow, we could run the trains," says Byrd, an upbeat Vietnam veteran who directed Blue Line light rail start-up and operations for about a year and a half before receiving his new assignment. "We have trained our instructors how to run the trains, and we have tested them in the tunnel."
 The last eight months haven't been all trains and tunnels for Byrd. When he first arrived at RTD's Division 20 on Santa Fe Avenue in downtown Los Angles, which will be home to Red Line subway cars, Byrd had to consider more mundane matters before even thinking about actually running a train.
 "I had to establish an office floor plan, a telephone plan and help hire my staff," Byrd says. "It was my job also to devise a training plan for Red Line supervisors and develop manuals and training rules. This kind of thing doesn't sound very glamorous, but it's crucial to the successful start-up of any transportation system."
 Byrd's goal is to have 24 operators on staff and ready to go by this October. "Many of the 24 operators will come from the Blue Line, where they have received experience driving a train," Byrd says. "The rest will come from the ranks of our bus operators. Our job is to teach them the differences -- and there are quite a few -- between light-rail vehicles and the heavy-rail subway vehicles they will be running."
 RTD's Red Line operators get an intensive, six-week training course on the fine points of running a subway car. Before they ever drive a train, however, they must learn about safety, terminology, tracks, signals, rules and procedures. They must familiarize themselves with all aspects of the physical layout of the cars, and must be able to troubleshoot if a basic mechanical problem occurs, such as doors that won't open.
 Not until the fourth week of training do operators take a seat at the controls for driving lessons. Unlike Blue Line trains, Red Line vehicles can operate in up to six different modes, Byrd says, including manually and fully automatically. Operators are expected to understand all modes, plus have absolute knowledge of the underground labyrinth that is not necessary on the Blue Line, which is mostly outside at ground level.
 "Red Line operators must know where all cross passages and exits are in the tunnels," Byrd explains. "In case of an emergency, it is the operator's job to guide passengers out of the tunnel."
 Byrd also oversees Division 20's yard control center, which is akin to an airport's control tower. All the Red Line's switches will be automatically controlled from the tower by the yard control specialist, who sees that trains come and go from the yard in an orderly fashion.
 On the maintenance side, Kalasnik is ensuring that everyone knows the difference between a light rail catenary and the "third rail" present in most subway systems.
 "The 'catenary' is the wire above Blue Line trains that supplies electric power to the trains," Kalasnik says. "This setup is less dangerous for maintenance workers and the public, because you can't step on it or run into it by mistake.
 "The Red Line, on the other hand, will get its power from a rail contact system, more commonly known as a 'third rail.' Since this is at ground level, caution is the key word for anyone walking near the tracks."
 Kalasnik points out that it isn't likely that the public will have to concern itself with the third rail, since subway track is set down in a track bed that will not be accessible to pedestrians. But maintenance specialists must constantly beware of the 750 volts of power that surge through the third rail.
 To move a Red Line train into Division 20's service shop, maintenance specialists use a "stinger," a hook-like device that essentially acts like a hand-held third rail, or extension cord.
 "It takes three maintenance people to properly use the stinger," Kalasnik explains. "One person hooks the stinger to one of the car's four power collector shoes to provide the necessary electricity, and also holds the wire it's attached to, making sure it doesn't get tangled with anything.
 "A second person operates the key switch and pushbutton to turn power on and off. The third person guides the train into the shop. Safety, of course, is our prime consideration."
 RTD will have 18 vehicle maintenance specialists and 12 assistants on staff by the time the Red Line opens, Kalasnik says, along with technical support staff, track and facilities maintenance personnel under the direction of Bud Moore, and others.
 "Everyone here is seeing the Red Line as a new challenge to be enthusiastically mastered," Kalasnik says. "The Red Line has a different job to do from the Blue Line, and therefore so do we.
 "Red Line car and Blue Line car motors, brakes, automatic controls and even wheels are quite different from each other. We are really using the skills and experience we gained on the Blue Line to adapt to the needs of the new Red Line cars."
 "It's fascinating from a manager's point of view to watch people connect with each other as a project like this progresses," says Byrd who witnessed a similar cohesiveness occur when the Blue Line was starting up. "You may pass someone in the hall everyday for months and never know his or her name. Then suddenly you'll have to work together intensively and you find out who that person is after all this time."
 There's one thing that Byrd and Kalasnik know for sure: when the starter's pistol cracks and it's time to run down the track, the RTD Red Line staff and the trains will be old friends.
 -0- 4/21/92
 /CONTACT: Greg Davy or Jim Smart of RTD, 213-972-4400/ CO: Southern California Rapid Transit District ST: California IN: SU:


AL -- LA027 -- 0754 04/21/92 14:20 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 21, 1992
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