October 24, 2018 10:40 am
Updated: October 24, 2018 8:15 pm

Edmonton LRT damage causes major delays Wednesday morning

WATCH ABOVE: It was a frustrating morning for LRT passengers and it's now leading to questions about the problem. Could the issue have been caught sooner? Vinesh Pratap takes a look.

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The City of Edmonton says damage to a significant number of LRT cars caused delays for commuters Wednesday morning.

Spokesperson Janice Schroeder said the Metro Line was not running from the Churchill station to NAIT. Commuters were being transported by buses.

The Capital Line was operating but with three cars instead of the typical five. Schroeder said additional buses were being used to help commuters travel between the Southgate and University stations.

“Replacing the service on the Metro Line was done simply because it’s a short route and there are less people to carry, so it’s easier for us to replace that service than it would be for us to replace Capital Line service between Century Park and downtown,” Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) spokesperson Rowan Anderson said.

The Metro Line was back to full service as of 3 p.m. The Capital Line was running normally but with fewer LRT trains. Buses were still offering replacement service from University south to Century Park during rush hour.

READ MORE: Thales says Metro LRT signalling system is ready to run

Those using the replacement buses were told to look for red “LRT Replacement” signs on bus stop signs. The buses also had “LRT Replacement Service” and final destination signs.

Anderson said a routine inspection Tuesday night found some of the cars had damage to their pantograph, the metal arm that connects the car to the overhead, high-voltage wire running the length of the line.

The city said an out-of-place arm holding the overhead wire is to blame for causing damage to about 40 per cent of the 100-car fleet.

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“The pantograph itself would have been clipping this arm and hitting it and it would damage that arm,” he said.

“So the reason we take the vehicles off line is because we don’t want a catastrophic failure of the catenary system itself, so ripping down the catenary is what we’re protecting against.”

Anderson said damage to the arm was discovered last week, but it was not anticipated that it would damage to the cars’ pantographs until the damage was discovered during Wednesday morning’s routine inspection.

“We’re only six hours deep into this right now, so we’ll have more information as that kind of unfolds,” he said.

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The Metro Line started running again at a lower frequency at around 12 p.m. Wednesday, and the city said it was hoping the line would be at full service by the afternoon. Full Capital Line service resumed early Wednesday afternoon as the pantographs were being fixed.

“We know we can fix the damage to the vehicles, which is great, and we can fix it quickly,” Anderson said.

“The damage to the pentograph is a quick fix for us, we’re able to fix fairly quickly.

An inspection was also performed on the line early Wednesday morning and no safety issues were found to the line itself, Anderson said.

As of 3 p.m., 24 of the 40 damaged pantographs were fixed. Crews were expected to fix more through the rest of the day, evening and overnight.

“Full LRT service, or close to full LRT service, is expected for tomorrow [Thursday] morning’s commute,” and Edmonton Transit spokesperson said.

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