updated 4/19/2005 7:22:40 PM ET 2005-04-19T23:22:40

The company that builds Amtrak’s Acela Express trains has only 80 disc brakes in stock, not nearly enough to replace the 300 damaged brakes discovered on the railroad’s 20-train, high-speed rail fleet.

David Slack, a spokesman for Montreal-based Bombardier, Inc., said Tuesday he did not know how long it will take the company to supply Amtrak with enough brakes to put the Acela trains back in service. Bombardier and Alstom SA of France build the Acela trains.

Amtrak pulled the Acela trains out of service last Friday after discovering millimeter-size cracks in 300 of the fleet’s 1,440 disc brake rotors. Each Acela train has 72 brakes.

Amtrak put one Acela train back in service Monday for a New York-to-Washington run, but the train did not make a scheduled trip from Washington to Boston because the wheels did not match perfectly, officials said.

Later Monday, Amtrak officials said there would be no Acela service at least through Friday, possibly longer. Amtrak normally runs 15 Acela weekday roundtrips between New York and Washington and 11 between New York and Boston.

The Acela problem comes as President Bush is urging Congress to eliminate Amtrak’s operating subsidy and privatize it. A Senate subcommittee is to debate Bush’s proposal Thursday. The current budget gives Amtrak about $1.2 billion in operating subsidies and capital investment funds.

Acela normally makes up about one-fifth of Amtrak’s service along the Northeast corridor, carrying an average of 9,000 riders on weekdays.

Amtrak’s four-member board of directors had a telephone conference call meeting Tuesday to get an update on the Acela status and to discuss a financing plan for the railroad. The board’s chairman, David Laney, said during a break that the members were still “hammering out a few issues” and the meeting could resume Wednesday.

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