Ottawa's LRT to remain offline until early November

Ottawa's Confederation Line LRT will remain shut down for at least another two weeks, possibly more, according to a new memo from city staff.

Staff spent the weekend reviewing Rideau Transit Group's return-to-service delivery plan to resume service following the LRT derailment on Sept. 19. The O-Train has been shut down since the derailment, forcing commuters to use R1 replacement bus service to travel into and out of the downtown core.

"This document is quite detailed and staff will be reviewing the contents and conducting a preliminary assessment over the weekend," said City Manager Steve Kanellakos in a memo to council after the city received the plan.

In a memo to city councillors sent Monday, Kanellakos said RTG had given the city a date of Nov. 1 to begin a partial return to service with up to seven trains.

But the city manager expects it could be up to another week or more after that before the trains start running.

"RTG's proposed releaunch on Nov. 1 is conditional on the completion by RTG of an intensive inspection program on the vehicle fleet," Kanellakos wrote. "Based on the steps necessary to verify the safety of the system, the City anticipates that partial service will resume within the first two weeks of November."

The Confederation Line has been out of service since Sept. 19, when an LRT car derailed at Tremblay Station, damaging the car, the track, the station platform and track infrastructure.

On Wednesday, council was told Rideau Transit Group has identified a loose gearbox as the issue that caused the derailment. Kanellakos said bolts that secure the gearbox to the vehicle were "not torqued properly or verified", according to Alstom.

The gearbox came loose and was dragged along the track, said the city manager.

Kanellakos said previously Philadelphia-based TRA, the firm hired to conduct an independent review of the return-to-service plan, will "validate" the plan and repairs to the infrastructure before the service resumes.

In Monday's memo, Kanellakos said TRA would provide more information about their workplan at Wednesday's transit commission meeting. Representatives from RTG will also be in attendance.

"TRA will review RTG's relaunch plan and make recommendations to the City on the proposed LRT relaunch of service plan. TRA will monitor the effective execution of the plan," Kanellakos said. 

"Once TRA recommends to the City that RTG is ready to resume service, the City will take the steps necessary to verify RTG’s ability to safely and reliably relaunch LRT. This will include one to two days of testing. The final date for return-to-service will only be determined once the City is satisfied that it is safe to do so," he added.

The repairs to the Confederation Line following the derailment were expected to be finished last week.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron", transit commission chair Coun. Allan Hubley told guest host Graham Richardson that the system could be up and running earlier in November than later, but it all depends on the review of the system.

"We want to have a few days of testing to run the trains up and down the track and make sure there are no issues. We want to be confident before we put the riders back on that train," he said. "Allow us two weeks for that. If we can go faster, we will."

Hubley said the transit commission will be asking RTG on Wednesday whether they've spent the downtime going over the train cars and ensuring they're ready to relaunch.

FIRST DAY FOR THE NEW OC TRANSPO BOSS

It's the first day on the job for Ottawa's new General Manager of the Transit Services Department.

Renée Amilcar replaces John Manconi as the head of transit services in Ottawa.

Amilcar is an industrial engineer with a degree from École Polytechnique de Montréal and an MBA from Université de Sherbrooke. Amilcar joined Societe de Transports Montreal in 2002, and served as Executive Director of Bus Services since 2014.

"Given her extensive experience, Renée is well-positioned to continue developing the operations of our transit network and the transformation of our multi-modal system," said Kanellakos in a memo to council on Sept. 27. "This includes Council’s plans to expand our Light Rail Transit system further east, west and south, growing our electric bus program, continuing to improve services for our customers and continuing to build a strong internal team and productive relationships with our unions."