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Ottawa LRT: 8 train cars need repairs for axle issues

Eight of 39 train cars on Ottawa's Confederation Line LRT will need repairs before they can be put back into service. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Eight train cars out of 39 require repairs for an issue that resulted in an axle derailment on one of Confederation Line light-rail vehicles, according to the head of Ottawa’s transit services.

Ottawa transit boss John Manconi sent another memo Monday night updating city councillors on what’s been a turbulent week for the LRT line.

All trains were taken out of service for inspections after one vehicle was found to have an issue with an axle-bearing unit, a component that connects a train’s axle to the wheel.

Read more: Ottawa LRT shut down, TSB on scene after errant axle results in ‘abnormal and rough ride’

Manconi said in his latest memo that eight cars “did not meet established thresholds when tested and will require repairs.” Parts of the axle-bearing units on these trains will need to be replaced before they can be put back into service.

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Rideau Transit Maintenance has told the city that it has the necessary components on hand and replacement work can start soon.

Meanwhile, two of the 39 train cars still require inspection, but a majority of trains have passed the test and have been put back into service.

A complete train is made up of two individual cars.

As of Monday morning, 12 trains were operating on the Confederation Line allowing for service roughly every five minutes at LRT stations. Manconi said he expects the line will operate with 11 to 13 trains through the week with a spare vehicle on standby.

“This is in line with the service provided over the past several months, and based on recent ridership counts, will provide enough capacity to accommodate weekday customers,” he said.

Manconi’s regular memos could remain the only formal updates to council on the ongoing LRT trouble, as a request from two councillors to hold an emergency transit commission meeting over the recent issues was rebuffed Monday.

Councillors Catherine McKenney and Diane Deans wrote to transit chair Allan Hubley requesting the commission gather before the next meeting scheduled for Sept. 20 to probe the city officials on the LRT woes and recent issues affecting a line of double-decker buses in OC Transpo’s fleet.

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Read more: 7 OC Transpo double-decker buses need steering fix after inspection

Hubley said in a response Monday evening that while he shares his colleagues’ concerns, he is satisfied with Manconi’s regular memos and Troy Charter’s interviews with media outlets in keeping the public informed on the LRT status.

He added that low ridership levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed the city to meet customer demands with diminished capacity while the inspections continue.

“Our staff’s attention is currently directed to the inspection of vehicles and restoring full service, and I want Mr. Manconi and his team’s undivided attention on that mission, to the benefit of OC Transpo riders,” Hubley wrote in his response.

He said Manconi will be available for councillor inquiries in the meantime and will provide a fulsome update on both the LRT and double-decker bus issues at the September transit commission meeting.

Not to be deterred, McKenney said Tuesday morning that they are petitioning to get a majority of transit commission members together to hold a special meeting that could see officials answer their questions in a public forum.

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Ottawa transit staff are also keeping representatives from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) in the loop on the progress of repairs, Manconi said, after the federal transportation watchdog sent a team of investigators to the site of the derailment last week.

He said in his memo that the TSB has not launched a formal investigation into the occurrence but is “assessing the situation.”

Global News has reached out to the TSB for comment on the body’s concerns with Ottawa’s LRT line.

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