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OC Transpo orders ‘spotters’ back to all LRT platforms after CCTV system glitches

An OC Transpo train is seen on Line 1.
An OC Transpo train is seen on Line 1. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The company maintaining the Confederation Line has hauled back staff to monitor all LRT platforms after the CCTV camera system that helps train operators depart stations safely went down on Wednesday, according to OC Transpo.

Those dedicated workers have been staffed at platforms across Ottawa’s LRT system since it launched mid-September “as an additional layer of protection,” the head of the city’s transit agency said later in the afternoon.

But the “required” number of platform “spotters” weren’t in position when LRT operators reported issues with the CCTV system at around 10 a.m., OC Transpo claims.

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“I immediately contacted Peter Lauch, the CEO of RTG, and ordered that all resources be redeployed immediately,” Manconi wrote in an LRT update sent to media.

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“I have ordered RTG to have spotters present on all platforms until further notice.”

The Rideau Transit Group (RTG) is the consortium hired to design and build the Confederation Line. Its maintenance division, Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM), is responsible for maintaining the east-west line.

The LRT operators use the CCTV system to view the train platforms and make sure they’re clear before rolling out of a station, according to Manconi.

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When the cameras aren’t working, a “qualified spotter” staffed to the platform provides the “all clear” to the LRT operator. In the case a spotter isn’t there, the operator contacts the OC Transpo’s transit operations control centre, which uses its cameras to check the platforms, Manconi said.

“Under no circumstances do trains depart without a clearance signal,” he wrote.

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The transportation manager didn’t specify why the CCTV system went down on Wednesday, but said operators “followed all established protocols during this loss of CCTV service.”

OC Transpo staff filled in as spotters where necessary until the spotters redeployed by RTG shortly before 2 p.m. arrived, according to Manconi.

There aren’t any delays on the LRT line, Manconi wrote. In a later update just before 4:30 p.m., he said all the CCTV system are now “operating appropriately.”

There have been 12 of the necessary 13 trains in service during Wednesday’s peak travel periods, as RTG continues to recover from a serious train shortage last week.

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