Confederation Line is ‘safe’ despite cracked wheels on new cars: OC Transpo

OTTAWA — As the Transportation Safety Board investigates wheel cracks on Ottawa’s 10 month-old light rail transit system, the head of OC Transpo insists the Confederation Line is “safe.”

Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi says the concern is not the cracked wheels on the vehicles, but the fact the cracks have occurred so early in the system’s life.

The TSB announced on Friday that it is conducting a “Class 3” investigation after cracks were found on a total of four wheels on three separate vehicles during maintenance and inspection activities.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live Monday morning, Manconi said Rideau Transit Maintenance, Alstom and OC Transpo started investigating as soon as the cracks were discovered.

“The investigations started immediately and that’s with a team of experts both on the consortium side, the city side and now we have TSB also,” said Manconi.

“Which is good because that offers different lenses and checks upon checks, which is what you want with a safety element such as this.”

Alstom, the builder of the rail cars, is required to do regular inspections on all wheels until the source of the wheel cracks are discovered.

“The good news is that they have not found any additional cracked wheels and the inspection regime is working. Every single vehicle gets inspected after its been in use.”

Manconi told CTV Morning Live that there are several “checks and balances” on the rail system, including Transport Canada, an independent oversight body that reports to Council, and a Chief Safety Officer that reports to him.

“That Chief Safety Officer and myself we can ground the fleet, we can bring it to an immediate stop if we have any safety concerns or any concerns without asking anyone,” Manconi said.

“The first thing we asked when we heard of a potential cracked wheel, we asked for documentation from RTG from the safety experts that says there’s no risk to the public. The TSB has asked for the documentation and our independent experts and our Chief Safety Officer. We’ve seen that twice now in terms of the vehicles can continue to be in use if they’re inspected.”

Manconi says he understands people may be frustrated following another issue with the Confederation Line since its launch on September 14.

“I just want to reassure the public – the system is safe, the inspections are ongoing and there’s a lot of oversight on it.”

Manconi says Alstom will continue to conduct inspections on the rail wheels until the “issue is put to bed.”

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