Rail consultant confirms Ottawa LRT ready for relaunch on Friday

Ottawa’s light-rail transit system will welcome passengers back on board Friday morning, the city manager confirmed Wednesday after receiving the final sign-off from the city’s hired rail safety consultants.

Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) sent a letter to city manager Steve Kanellakos on Wednesday indicating the firm was satisfied with Rideau Transit Group’s work to make the Confederation Line LRT safe for riders following a nearly eight-week shutdown stemming from the Sept. 19 derailment.

“Based on TRA’s determination and recommendation, the city accepts that all the requirements of due diligence have been satisfied,” Kanellakos wrote.

Service will start with seven trains on the track and at least one spare in the yard, but Kanellakos told media Wednesday afternoon that he’s expecting there will be multiple trains on hand should any experience disruptions.

Read more: Ottawa LRT trains pulled from testing as confidence in Rideau Transit Group questioned

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He added that Ottawa transit general manager Renée Amilcar should be able to make a call by Friday morning on whether full service on the line would be ready to go by December, which is tentatively slated to offer rides free fares across the system.

Kanellakos also said that the two trains that collided in the yard Monday morning are “at the back of the line” for returning to service.

While he didn’t have many firm details on why the two vehicles crashed into each other, causing some damage to both but no injuries, he said it’s believed the two trains weren’t connected together properly while they were being towed through the yard.

Despite the issues in the yard, Kanellakos said that the past few days of testing on the Confederation Line itself have been “basically perfect” in terms of mock service.

“I think people can be very confident that those trains are safe,” he said.

Mayor Jim Watson, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday that he recently had a “come to Jesus” meeting with the heads of RTG where he expressed his “anger on behalf of the passengers and the taxpayers of the city of Ottawa.”

“A couple of them, I think, are now in the burn unit at the Ottawa Hospital because I was pretty rough on them, because they put us through enough.”

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His comments came after city council stuck with an LRT audit rather than a judicial inquiry into the problem-plagued system.

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