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Angels Flight safe to run with new wheels, state says

July 26, 2011 |  4:12 pm

California safety officials assured the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday that the Angels Flight Railway is now safe following a state-ordered closure last month.

The California Public Utilities Commission closed the downtown Los Angeles railway in early June after determining that the 15-year-old wheels on the two rail cars needed replacement because their flanges -– rims added for strength –- were worn far past the three-quarter-inch safety requirement. Crews spent three weeks installing eight new wheels on the funicular's cars. The railway was reopened July 5.

Richard Clark, the commission's director of consumer protection and safety, reiterated to the council Tuesday that the problem had been fixed.

"I can assure you we would not have allowed them to reopen if we did not think it was safe to operate," Clark told the council.

However, officials are still trying to determine the root cause of the problem, Clark said, in an effort to better prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

The 110-year-old railway, which runs 298 feet up Bunker Hill between Hill and Olive streets, closed in 2001 after the two cars collided because of a brake failure. That accident killed one passenger and injured seven others. It reopened in March 2010 after $3.5 million in renovations, but shut down again last year because of a faulty door.

Clark said his commission would also conduct triannual audits to look "deeper into the issues" of Angels Flight. The first audit, he said, would be conducted in September or October of this year.


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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Angel's Flight in downtown Los Angeles

Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times