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O-Train return-to-service delayed at least 10 days

OC Transpo is delaying the return of O-Train service for at least 10 days to allow Rideau Transit Group to complete “additional track infrastructure work” to ensure the train’s wheels do not contact the restraining rails located along the tracks.

Ottawa’s light-rail transit system was scheduled to return to service on Monday with eight single-car trains, two weeks after an axle bearing issue was discovered on one train during a routine 50,000 km inspection. OC Transpo said at the time the return-to-service hinged on three milestones, including a new Safety Note from Rideau Transit Group and Alstom.

In a memo to council Friday afternoon, Transit Services general manager said more work needs to be conducted on the line before the Safety Note is finalized and service resumes.

“RTG and Alstom have conducted numerous instrumented bogie tests, which have resulted in the need for additional track infrastructure work to ensure that the train wheels do not make contact with the restraining rail,” Amilcar said.

Amilcar says Rideau Transit Group and Alstom advised OC Transpo that the Safety Note requires a new condition, requiring the additional work on the track infrastructure.

“The Safety Note firmly requires there can be no contact between the train wheel and the restraining wheel,” Amilcar said.

Rideau Transit Group admitted that contact may be putting extra pressure on the axle, which could cause the issues with the axle-bearing.

On Tuesday, Alstom and Rideau Transit Group ran an instrumented bogie test train fitted with an “out of tolerance” axle hub at regular speeds to determine the vibration signature. Officials said on Tuesday that it would help with further analysis of the issues affecting the wheel hub.

“These tests confirmed the need for additional track infrastructure work to ensure that the wheel and restraining wheel do not make contact,” Amilcar told the media Friday afternoon.

“As this condition is not met, we cannot resume service on Monday.

OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group will work on a new risk assessment through the weekend for the work that needs to be completed this weekend to ensure the track infrastructure confirms to a new Safety Note.

“Once the risk assessment is complete, it will take approximately 10 days to complete the track infrastructure work,” Amilcar said.

More information on the work and timelines for the safe resumption of service will be provided on Monday.

Rideau Transit Group and OC Transpo says the position of the restraining rail will have to be mortified in 16 locations along the 12.5 km track to ensure there is no contact with the train wheels. Amilcar says restraining rails will need to be repositioned “one to two millimetres”, and tests will be conducted to ensure there is no contact before LRT service resumes.

The restraining rail is a component designed to ensure the LRT vehicle does not derail in the event of excessive lateral force, excessive speed, or any kind of anomaly in the working of the vehicle, Rideau Transit Group said.

Earlier this week, Amilcar said that three milestones must be met to “safely resume service” on the O-Train line following the shutdown on July 17 due to a wheel-bearing issue.

  • Inspection of all LRT vehicles. “This was completed on July 24,” Amilcar said.
  • French manufacturer Texelis report on the manufacturer’s disassembly and analysis of the out of tolerance hub. Amilcar says the report was received on Friday and RTG is currently conducting a review.
  • Final safety note from RTG, outlining the parameters of the new containment plan for the safe operations of Line 1.

“The decision to not return service is related to the Safety Note, not (Texelis) report,” Amilcar said.

The O-Train was abruptly shut down on Monday, July 17 after an axle-bearing issue was detected on one train during a routine inspection. R1 replacement bus service has been running between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.

When O-Train service does resume, there will be eight single-car trains operating along the line between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations, with trains arriving at stations every seven to eight minutes.

Amilcar says single-car trains will be running for the foreseeable future to limit kilometres and inspections under the new maintenance regime.

OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group announced Wednesday that all leading and trailing wheel hub assemblies and axles will be replaced on O-Train vehicles every 60,000 km as part of a new inspection and replacement regime. A permanent fix will see Rideau Transit Group and Alstom redesign the wheel hub assemblies on all trains.

OC Transpo says RTG will continue to change the wheel hub assemblies on all LRT vehicles during the shutdown.

“This is a frustrating setback for OC Transpo passengers, and I want to say I share in that frustration,” Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

“This is, to say the least, a significant disappointment. But once again it is important to underscore that our first priority must be the safety of our passengers.”

Other preparations for the return-to-service that must be completed includes:

  • Reviewing all stations to ensure they are clean and ready to open
  • Verifying the stations and tracks are ready for operation
  • Ensuring all the customer signage and announcement systems are working
  • Reviewing and preparing new wayfinding signage and communications materials to assist customers in navigating the stations and R1 stop locations
  • Preparing red-vested outreach, Transit Supervisors and Rail Operations staff to be at key stations along Line 1 to support customers

“So close” to a permanent fix to LRT

Amilcar and Sutcliffe say there has been no consideration of shutting down the LRT system indefinitely to address the issues.

“We are so close,” Amilcar said. “I used to say I cannot fix things that I don’t know if it’s broken or not. So now we know what is the problem and we just need the manpower to be able to do the job.”

OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group announced Wednesday that all leading and trailing wheel hub assemblies and axles will be replaced on O-Train vehicles every 60,000 km as part of a new inspection and replacement regime. On Monday, Amilcar announced RTG and Alstom have agreed to completely redesign the wheel hub assembly.

“We have a final fix as well, so this is temporary. More than ever I can tell you that we’re so close. This is so unfortunate today‚Ķ I’m frustrated, I’m disappointed,” Amilcar said.

“We will have the train very soon.”

Sutcliffe added he knows it feels like “another setback” for transit riders.

“We are working collaboratively with our partners in the consortium to fix these problems,” Sutcliffe said. “We’re fixing problems faster. We’re not just treating the symptoms or the issues that are arising that are interrupting the service, we are working on the long-term solutions.”

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