Ottawa LRT service ‘better than the one’ before the 54 day shutdown, RTM CEO says

OTTAWA — Rideau Transit Maintenance will replace a section of rail in the LRT tunnel overnight and add an eighth train to the Confederation Line Thursday, as the service slowly ramps up following the derailment two months ago.

Meanwhile, the head of Rideau Transit Maintenance says the system operating today is “better than the one” that was shutdown following the derailment on Sept. 19.

“We took advantage of the shutdown period to do a lot of work on the vehicles, to address a lot of the backlog issues and working in partnership with TRA and the city we’ve established some very solid long-term goals around quality control, around safety management and we will continue to work with TRA,” said RTM CEO Mario Guerra.

“I can say with a great degree of confidence that the system that the citizens of Ottawa have today is better than the one that unfortunately was taken out of service some time ago.”

The city hired Philadelphia-based TRA in October to oversee the return-to-service plan. Officials from TRA remain in Ottawa to assist OC Transpo and the city with the relaunch of the system.

“It’s not a lemon,” said TRA president Kenneth Korach, when asked whether Ottawa purchased a world-class system.

“There’s no aspect of it that strikes me as being inherently defective or deficient. You’ve got a great system. Whether or not every aspect of is performing as well as it can, that’s why we’re here and that’s why we’re here to make improvements.”

The O-Train returned to service last Friday, 54 days after the system was shutdown following the second derailment in six weeks.

Guerra told transit commissioners the extended shutdown allowed maintenance technicians to address outstanding issues with the LRT cars and the track.

The O-Train is currently operating on partial service with seven trains, stopping at stations every eight minutes.

OC Transpo general manager Renee Amilcar told the transit commission an eighth train will be added to service on Thursday, and 11 trains will be in operation by the end of the month.

“We need to be proud today that the safety work that needed to be done was done and we will remain vigilant,” said Amilcar, while providing an update on the transit system in French.

“The safety of our passengers is not at risk. Give us a chance to deal with this aspect of safety.”

Late Tuesday, video on Twitter highlighted “very loud and grindy” sounds on the Confederation Line as it travelled around a corner between Rideau and uOttawa stations in the tunnel.

Amilcar told the transit commission that Rideau Transit Maintenance will replace a section of the track near Rideau Station overnight, and that should address the noise issue.

“There is a very specific location at the Rideau Station that we find a noise that is unusual,” said Amilcar in French, noting the track was grinded.

“We decided to avoid having that noise and to avoid having concerns, we will change and replace this segment (of the rail). We will start the work tonight and then we think the noise will be gone permanently.”

Earlier in the meeting, Amilcar said it is important for transit riders to remember that some wheel noise is expected.

“It is normal that a train on steel wheels on a steel rail track, it’s noisy.”

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