Nov 09, 2023

Inspection of LRT fleet complete, 6 vehicles under 'further investigation'

An inspection of each axle bearing in the LRT fleet is complete, but six light rail vehicles are under "further investigation," OC Transpo says.

During the inspection, one hub on five light rail vehicles and two hubs on a sixth vehicle were found to be slightly looser than a "very conservative threshold," said Renée Amilcar, the city's general manager of transit services.

As a result, those trains are being inspected further out of "an abundance of caution," Amilcar said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, on the ninth day of the current LRT shutdown. The full news conference is available in the media player above.

"We don't want to take any chance with those six vehicles," Amilcar said. "It's normal, but because we are conducting this huge investigation, it's time to have a deep dive on everything, and we don't want to take any risk."

With the inspections complete and an analysis of the vehicle hub assembly expected from the train manufacturer Friday, OC Transpo is still targeting a return to service on Monday, Amilcar said.

Further details on an operational plan for a "gradual" return to service targeting the full-length of the Confederation Line, from Blair to Tunney's Pasture stations, will be shared Wednesday, she added.

"I know the current service disruption is frustrating and impacts your daily life," Amilcar said. "But I will not compromise safety."

Richard Holder, the city's director of engineering services, said a realignment of "restraining rails" along the Confederation Line is expected to be complete before Monday.

That realignment is underway as an inspection determined the train wheels were contacting the restraining rails, Holder said.

The LRT has been out of service for more than a week after shutting down July 17. A bearing problem is behind the latest shutdown, but the city has not explained why it keeps happening.

The train's maker, Alstom, and Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the consortium that built the Confederation Line, are redesigning the wheel hub assembly as part of a permanent solution, though the root cause of the issues still hasn't been identified.

Bearings have been a central part of the problems plaguing Ottawa's light rail system over the last two years.

R1 buses have been running the length of the line. Riders have complained about facing lengthy commutes and crowded buses, renewing questions about whether compensation would be offered, something the head of OC Transpo wouldn't address at a media briefing Monday.

In the meantime, a university student has come up with innovative ways to help others avoid the delays and overcrowded buses.

The city said the LRT could be up and running by the end of July.