Full LRT service resumes Tuesday night, after nearly a week of disruptions

The LRT was disrupted for five days and 20 hours before the full service returned Tuesday evening. (CBC - image credit)
The LRT was disrupted for five days and 20 hours before the full service returned Tuesday evening. (CBC - image credit)

After nearly six full days, Ottawa's full light rail service is up and running again Tuesday evening.

Trouble with the system began during freezing rain on the night of Jan. 4, with further damage done during some attempts to fix the system. R1 replacement buses have been brought in to fill the light rail gap.

In a news release sent Tuesday just before 8:30 p.m., the city confirmed OC Transpo's LRT Line 1 service from Tunney's Pasture to Blair stations is now running across the entire stretch.

Up until then, trains were running between Blair and Tremblay stations to the east of the closure and between Tunney's Pasture and uOttawa stations to the west, with R1 replacement buses servicing the fragmented train service in between.

On Wednesday, the LRT service will begin at its original scheduled time on the full line, with no R1 service, the city said.

Investigation underway

During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Ottawa's transit general manager Renée Amilcar said that an investigation into the root cause is underway.

Mario Guerra, CEO and acting general manager of Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM), said a working group has been convened to look at what happened — they've met once already. He expects the city to release preliminary information on the cause in a few weeks.

During freezing rain events, Guerra said trains will run along the track with "sliders" that ensure ice doesn't build up.

Guerra explained that the ice buildup on the track's centre portion near Tremblay and uOttawa stations "became too much for us to handle," after two trains were stalled there. He said he doesn't have answers right now as to why the two trains became stuck, and said he wouldn't speculate whether it was due to a human or a technical error.

"The ice buildup was so extreme that we had to take other steps to remove it and because of that, it took much longer than it normally would have," he said.

"As to why it happened … it's going to take us a while to figure that one out."

WATCH | RTM explains how 'extreme' ice buildup caused partial shutdown: 

One of the two stuck trains was rescued Tuesday around 4:30 p.m., and the second was on its way back to the maintenance yard around 5:30 p.m, Guerra said. Test trains will then run along the stretch of repaired track.

In a memo sent before the press conference, Amilcar said repairs to the Confederation Line's overhead power system are complete along the closed section between Tremblay and uOttawa stations.

At the time, she also said next steps were to power the line back up, remove two stopped trains, test the system, and re-institute full service.

On Monday, Amilcar and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said they're seeking answers as to why the middle of the network in particular is experiencing issues, and whether this problem is isolated or chronic.

OC Transpo has brought in independent experts STV, joining existing oversight firm TRA Inc., to monitor Rideau Transit Management's work.