LTK’s long-term association with the DRPA and PATCO originated in the 1960s, when the firm helped develop a plan to construct a new rapid transit system between Lindenwold, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. When DRPA decided to go forward with construction, LTK managed the procurement of 75 state-of-the-art rail cars. The Budd-built, stainless steel rapid transit cars were designed as high-speed, high-performance and fully automated vehicles. They were the first heavy-rail transit cars in the U.S. to utilize Automatic Train Operation (ATO) with continuous Automatic Train Control (ATC) for safety enforcement in both manual and automatic modes of operation.
LTK’s services on this original fleet included specification development, bid evaluation, design review, construction management, inspection, acceptance testing and warranty assistance.
The fare collection system on the Lindenwold Line, also an LTK design recommendation, was the first to incorporate a self-service, barrier controlled, multi-zone, low cost method of fare collection.
During the initial years of PATCO operation, ridership increased to the point that additional cars were needed to relieve overcrowding. To accommodate this growth, PATCO again enlisted LTK to support the procurement of 46 more cars, beginning with specification preparation and continuing through the acceptance and warranty period. LTK was instrumental in assisting DRPA/PATCO with obtaining federal funding support for this new car project.
LTK continued to serve the PATCO system throughout the 1970s and 1980s, providing biennial inspections, on-site inspections of fare collection equipment, recommendations on system improvements and coordination of joint fare agreements with other transit agencies.
Working closely with PATCO’s management in 1982, LTK designed an in-house, mid-life overhaul program for the first fleet of railcars and successfully petitioned UMTA to become the first railcar overhaul project to be supported by federal funding. The program increased the mean distance between failure (MDBF) of the original 1968 fleet, improved the material safety characteristics, upgraded the propulsion and ATO/ATC control electronics and extended the useful service life of the cars by at least 20 years.
In 2003-2004, LTK assisted PATCO in reviewing the condition of its railcar fleet and developing overhaul recommendations, with the goal that the cars continue to operate reliably in this high-speed, high-frequency service.
LTK is in the process of developing detailed overhaul technical specifications and cost estimates to begin the rehabilitation process. Subsequent work will include bid review, design review, inspection, testing and commissioning activities.