Track sanding device suspected in LRT train derailment: Manconi

OTTAWA — A device that is used to put sand on the rails in the winter could be behind a derailment Sunday on Ottawa’s $2.1 billion Confederation Line LRT, the city’s transit chief said Monday.

A set of wheels on a train left the tracks early Sunday afternoon just west of Tremblay Station. There were passengers on board at the time but nobody was hurt.

The derailment—the second on the line in six weeks—brought the entire LRT service to a halt Sunday and Monday. R1 bus service is replacing the LRT from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair stations.

OC Transpo general manager John Manconi told the transit commission on Monday that this latest derailment does not appear to be related to the axle bearing problem that derailed a train in August, but rather to a sanding device on the underside of the train is used in winter to cut down on icing and add traction.

“The bracket that holds that unit could have become dislodged and could have caused the derailment,” Manconi said, while stressing that these are very early findings that have not been certified and are not the Transportation Safety Board’s findings.

“They are very, very early in the investigation phase but I thought it would be prudent (to share) because I’m aware that there’s concerns about the overall safety and reliability of the system,” Manconi said.

“The TSB is out there assessing everything, they’re controlling the site and the vehicle. This is not their finding. This is the collective discussion that’s been occurred by the many safety officials and rail experts that are out there, looking at what occurred.”

Director of Transit Operations Troy Charter told the transit commission Monday morning that the car involved in Sunday’s derailment had recently returned to service following axle repairs, adding that the preliminary information suggests the cause of Sunday’s derailment is not the same as the cause of the Aug. 8 derailment.

The TSB said in a release Monday that it has deployed an investigator to the scene to assess the incident but a formal investigation has not yet been launched.

Manconi said he is recommending an independent review of Rideau Transit Maintenance’s (RTM) plan for a return to service before the Confederation Line reopens to customers.

“I’ve instructed our chief safety officer to include in the order to RTM that before we can restore service for this incident, Sam Berrada, your independent rail regulatory officer, will be recommending to Mr. Kanellakos (Ottawa’s City Manager) an independent safety officer review the return-to-service plan that RTM is proposing,” Manconi said.

The transit commission is currently hearing an update on the Confederation Line.

This is a developing story. CTV News Ottawa will have the latest as it becomes available.

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