Labor problems at Nebraska plant where NYC subway cars built sparking delivery delays, MTA says

Labor shortages and mismanagement at a Nebraska plant mean New York transit riders will have a longer wait for new train cars, MTA officials warned Monday.

The new Kawasaki cars are set to replace aging ones on the subway and Long Island Rail Road — but delivery is running at least 17 months late. Transit officials said the workers who build them keep quitting.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board in 2018 inked a $1.75 billion contract with Kawasaki for 535 modern subway cars, called R211s, that are needed to replace ones dating back to the 1970s.

They were supposed to hit the tracks in July 2023, but ongoing problems have pushed their arrival to at least January 2025 — and an MTA consultant said delivery is at risk of slipping another nine months.

Kawasaki has only delivered five of the cars for the MTA to test on the subways — and they arrived a year late.

labor problems at nebraska plant where nyc subway cars built sparking delivery delays, mta says

Janno Lieber, president of MTA construction and development, was joined by Demetrius Crichlow, acting senior vice president for the MTA New York City transit department of subways, at the unveiling of new Kawasaki R211 subway cars in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on July 1, 2021. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

Kawasaki is also behind schedule on a $734 million contract to deliver 202 new cars for the LIRR. Those new cars will replace old ones from the 1980s — and are needed to run the agency’s incoming East Side Access service intended to bring LIRR service into a new station beneath Grand Central Terminal by December.

MTA officials said 132 of the new LIRR cars, dubbed M-9s, have been delivered. The rest are also 17 months behind schedule; officials said the last of them won’t arrive until September 2023.

MTA officials previously pinned delays to the deliveries on supply chain issues sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday they pointed to a labor catastrophe at Kawasaki’s plant in Lincoln, Neb., as cause for concern.

labor problems at nebraska plant where nyc subway cars built sparking delivery delays, mta says

The new R211 cars taken on their maiden trip via Locomotive in Sunset Park Brooklyn on Thursday July 1, 2021. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

“The people that would work, they would show up for a week, and then they would disappear,” LIRR head of rolling stock Jim Allen said during an MTA committee meeting. “That started a real systemic problem at Lincoln.”

Siu Ling Ko, chief mechanical officer for NYC Transit, said Kawasaki every month was losing about 45 employees who build subway cars in Nebraska — a high turnover rate for an operation of about 430 people.

Joseph Devito, the MTA’s independent engineering consultant, said Kawasaki’s struggle to retain workers began before the pandemic.

The train cars the MTA buys from Kawasaki are mostly built in Nebraska, but the final touches are put on at the company’s plant in Yonkers. Neither are unionized.

The shoddy oversight by Kawasaki managers has forced the MTA to babysit the company, Allen said.

“Unfortunately we have found that Kawasaki requires constant oversight and supervision over their work by the railroad,” he said.

A Kawasaki executive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MTA officials said the delays with the LIRR cars won’t affect the agency’s plans to launch East Side Access in December. But delays to the new subway cars mean longer waits for upgrades to the outdated signaling systems on the A line.

The technology on the new cars are needed to run communications-based train control, which uses computers to automatically drive subway trains. Contractors have begun to install the technology between the Columbus Circle and High St. stations on the A, C and E lines.

MTA chief development officer Jamie Torres-Springer said the new signals will be running on the local tracks along that stretch by 2025 — but riders will have to wait longer for smoother commutes on the express tracks that serve the A line.

Despite the problems, MTA officials said they still plan to order another 640 new subway cars from Kawasaki later this year. Transit officials said it’s necessary because only two companies — Kawasaki and Alstom — sell subway cars to the MTA.

“The universe of competent, qualified car builders that are in the U.S. are down to two. We’re all very mindful of some of those consequences,” said MTA chairman Janno Lieber. “What we’re trying to do is help Kawasaki get back on the straight and narrow.”

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White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. 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