Electrical problem behind latest LRT train stoppage

·2 min read
One of Ottawa's LRT trains makes its way along the Confederation Line on Monday. The following day, a train came to a halt near Hurdman station. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
One of Ottawa's LRT trains makes its way along the Confederation Line on Monday. The following day, a train came to a halt near Hurdman station. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa's LRT network experienced another disruption Tuesday night after an electrical problem caused a train to stall near Hurdman station.

Shortly after 11 p.m., OC Transpo announced a non-moving train was causing "slightly longer travel times" on the Confederation Line between Rideau and Tremblay stations.

The train had actually come to a gradual stop roughly 40 minutes earlier as it pulled out of Hurdman, according to a CBC reporter who was on board.

An operator announced there had been a "technical error" with the train. About 30 passengers were forced to disembark.

OC Transpo tweeted around 11:15 p.m. that regular service had been restored.

'Voltage breaker' to blame, says city manager

Tuesday night's disruption is at least the third to occur on the Confederation Line since its partial relaunch in the wake of September's derailment near Tremblay station.

On Nov. 16, a train unexpectedly stopped on the east end of the line, not long after the city announced replacement buses would no longer be needed.

Two days later, a brake issue brought a train to a 55-minute halt in the tunnel between Rideau and uOttawa station.

Tuesday night's delay occurred when a "voltage breaker went" and needed to be reset by a technician — much like someone might reset an electrical panel in their home, city manager Steve Kanellakos said at a Wednesday news conference.

All three incidents were minor, Kanellakos said, and none of them brought the LRT to a complete halt.

Jean Delisle/CBC
Jean Delisle/CBC

'99 per cent reliability'

The city has hired a U.S.-based firm to review the efforts by LRT builder Rideau Transit Group (RTG) to get the line fully up and running again. Kanellakos said the resulting maintenance plan has "paid dividends" by allowing trains to keep moving when there are problems.

"We're running at about 99 per cent reliability," Kanellakos said. "You have to expect there's going to be the occasional issue with the train where it stops or has to be reset or there's a door jam. These things happen in every train system in the world."

WATCH | Mayor touts 'slow and steady' progress on LRT despite three disruptions since relaunch

Mayor Jim Watson echoed that sentiment, acknowledging the stoppages but also pointing out there are "literally hundreds of trips every single day" on the Confederation Line.

"We've had a much better track record in terms of maintenance and preventative maintenance issues in the last three weeks than we did, obviously, prior to the shutdown," he said.

Watson added he had "every confidence" the network would have 11 double-car trains running by the end of November.

OC Transpo officials have said only 11 trains are needed to provide full service during COVID-19, instead of the 15 that are supposed to be available during rush-hour service.

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