OC Transpo is introducing a new R1 Express bus between Blair Station and downtown Ottawa, as the O-Train will remain out of service until at least the second week of August.
Transit Services general manager Renee Amilcar announced the new R1 Express will run every 15 minutes on weekdays between Blair Station and Mackenzie King Bridge and Albert Street.
“OC Transpo has listened to and heard the feedback from customers on R1 bus service and is responding,” Amilcar said in a memo to Council Sunday morning.
“This service will be in addition to the existing R1 bus service, which continues to operate on the same service pattern and schedule. The R1 Express service will run westbound on weekday mornings and eastbound during weekday afternoons and will offer our customers an additional travel option during the busiest commuting times.”
R1 buses will continue to run between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.
OC Transpo had hoped to resume partial service on the O-Train Monday morning with eight single-car trains, but Rideau Transit Group informed the city Friday afternoon that more work on the tracks is needed before service resumes.
Details on the “risk assessment” plan to fix the tracks will be released on Monday, but Amilcar has already said it will take at least 10 days to complete the track infrastructure work and resume service. That means it could be the second week of August, at the earliest, before LRT service resumes.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at what you need to know about the O-Train shutdown and the R1 replacement bus service heading into week three with disrupted service.
R1 replacement bus service
R1 replacement bus service continues to run between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations while the O-Train is out of service.
“The revised R1 route is operating well, and we continue to monitor it closely,” Amilcar said in a memo Saturday morning.
In downtown Ottawa, R1 replacement bus service is running along Albert and Slater streets, instead of Queen Street, in a bid to avoid traffic delays.
- Westbound R1 buses are running on Albert Street, with stops at Bank and Kent
- Eastbound R1 buses are running on Slater Street, with stops at Kent and O’Connor
R1 westbound service will stop at each station between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture, except for Lees Station.
A shuttle bus is operating between Lees, uOttawa and Rideau stations. Customers travelling to Lees station from the east can connect with the shuttle and eastbound R1 service at uOttawa station.
A shuttle bus is also running between Cyrville and St. Laurent stations to connect customers with R1 bus service.
OC Transpo is introducing a new R1 Express service between Blair Station and downtown Ottawa.
The new R1 Express will run westbound on weekday mornings and eastbound during weekday afternoons.
There will be 12 buses on the R1 Express, with buses running approximately every 15 minutes.
R1 Express will operate on:
- Monday to Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: Blair Station to downtown, with service on Mackenize King Bridge and on Albert Street at Bank and Kent
- Monday to Friday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Downtown to Blair Station with service on Slater Street at Bank and Kent and Mackenize King Bridge
The R1 Express bus will be identifiable as R1 Lyon Express to travel westbound and R1 Blair Express for eastbound transit riders.
Why was the O-Train initially closed?
OC Transpo abruptly shut down O-Train service during the afternoon commute on Monday, July 17 after an axle-bearing issue was discovered on one train during a routine 50,000 km/h inspection.
Amilcar told Council that excess grease was found on one axle. Further investigation determined the “bearing play was over the threshold at which it could stay in operation,” Amilcar said.
Rideau Transit Group and OC Transpo checked every axle on all trains and completed a track inspection.
A geometrical rail inspection was also conducted along the LRT line and a train equipped with specialized tools was used to measure the forces and loads on the axles of the train.
Three milestones to resume service
Amilcar told reporters that OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group must achieve three milestones before O-Train service can resume.
Inspection of all rail vehicles
Amilcar says the inspection of all 44 rail vehicles was completed on July 24. Six vehicles were undergoing additional investigations, but no other details were released.
French manufacturer Texelis conducted an assessment and investigation on the “out of tolerance axle hub assembly” that had the bearing issue. Texelis submitted the report to OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group on Friday.
“Rideau Transit Group is currently conducting a review,” Amilcar said.
The return-to-service plan requires a Safety Note provided by Alstom, through Rideau Transit Group.
The Safety Note outlines the parameters of the new “containment plan” for the safe operations of the Confederation Line. That includes the plans for a new inspection and replacement regime that requires the replacement of the leading and trailing wheel hub assemblies and axles every 60,000 kilometres and a new inspection regime for the middle bogies.
The draft safety note was received on Wednesday, according to Amilcar. The head of OC Transpo says RTG informed the city on Friday that the Safety Note requires additional actions to ensure that there is no contact between the “train wheel and the restraining rail.”
New requirement for O-Train service
The no contact between the train wheel and the restraining rail was a new requirement announced on Friday.
According to Amilcar, Rideau Transit Group said actions must be taken to ensure there is “no contact between the train wheel and the restraining rail.”
“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.
“The need for this additional work means that the gradual resumption of service, initially anticipated to occur on July 31, will be delayed.”
Rideau Transit Group and OC Transpo said on Friday the position of the restraining rail will have to be modified in 16 locations along the track to ensure there is no contact.
Amilcar said the restraining rails will need to be repositioned “one to two millimetres.”
OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group are spending the weekend determining the next steps, including a new risk assessment for the work to ensure the track infrastructure conforms to the new Safety Note.
Amilcar says once the risk assessment is complete, it will take approximately 10 days to complete the track infrastructure work before service is resumed.
More details on the return-to-service plan and the risk assessment will be released on Monday.
Rideau Transit Group and Alstom are also replacing the leading and trailing wheel hub assemblies and axles on all LRT vehicles every 60,000 km.
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