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Angels Flight railway reopens after safety shutdown

July 5, 2011 |  3:11 pm


The historic Angels Flight Railway in downtown Los Angeles reopened Tuesday after state safety inspectors signed off on new wheels installed on its rail cars, Sinai and Olivet.

The California Public Utilities Commission ordered the funicular railway closed last month after safety inspectors found the flanges on the rail cars' 15-year-old  wheels had worn down to less than a quarter of an inch -- one-third of what is deemed safe -- and needed to be replaced.

Crews spent three weeks installing eight new custom-made steel wheels on the funicular's two cars, said John Welborne, president of the Angels Flight Railway. Safety inspectors visited the railway Tuesday morning and in the afternoon told operators they could reopen.

The 110-year-old railway, which runs 298-feet up Bunker Hill between Hill and Olive streets, was shut down in 2001 after the brakes failed on one car, causing it to crash into the other. An 83-year-old passenger was killed in the accident and seven others were injured.

The funicular reopened in March 2010 after a $3.5-million overhaul, but was shut down again last year because of a faulty door.


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--Tony Barboza

Photo: Angels Flight. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times