Confederation Line service will resume in weeks, not months: Ottawa transit commission chair

An OC Transpo O-Train is seen west of Tremblay LRT Station In Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021 after it derailed on Sunday. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The chair of Ottawa's transit commission suggests it will be weeks, not months, before the Confederation Line resumes service following last month's derailment.

Coun. Allan Hubley adds he's optimistic Rideau Transit Group can fix the problems with Ottawa's two-year-old light rail transit service permanently.

"I've lost confidence in their abilities here," said Hubley during an interview on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning.

"I haven't said that they can't do it, it's just they need to prove this to us. This is their chance to step up to show our ridership and the taxpayers of Ottawa that these are the right people for this job."

 The Confederation Line has been out of service since Sept. 19, after an LRT car derailed near Tremblay Station, damaging the car, the track and the rail infrastructure. Rideau Transit Group said on Sept. 20 that it expected the rail line to be out of service for three weeks while the damage was repaired.

CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts asked Hubley if he had to target a date for the O-Train to resume service, would it be 30 days, three months or longer.

"Unfortunately, I cannot give you a specific date. We have to wait for the Transportation Safety Board to do their job, we've got to give them time and space to do a thorough investigation and provide us with direction from that," said Hubley.

"My hope is that once we get that green light from the Transportation Safety Board, RTM will be very quick in getting the trains out on the track.

"I definitely have no indication that it's going to be like months, I think we're talking weeks but I can't tell you how many weeks."

On Sept. 24, the city of Ottawa issued a Notice of Default to Rideau Transit Group as a result of the derailments on Aug. 8 and Sept. 19.  On Tuesday, the finance and economic development committee voted to deliver a 'Notice of Dispute' to RTG, which escalates the legal dispute between the city and consortium operating the system.

"The derailments have caused severe reputational harm to the City and to the System," said a letter from Michael Morgan, Ottawa's director of rail, to RTG.

"The Derailments are affecting ridership and have seriously undermined the public's confidence in the System.RTG does not appear to appreciate the gravity of the current situation given its refusal and/or inability to implement swift and appropriate actions with an adequate level of resourcing."

A motion at FEDCO stated the city of Ottawa found RTG's plan to reduce service and the schedule were unsatisfactory. No details on RTG's plan to resume service were released to the public.