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Timeline for getting Ottawa LRT back on track expected within days

An Ottawa LRT train was derailed after a gear box came loose and was dragged along the track on Sept. 19, the city manager said Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Steven Grant

Ottawa’s city manager could not give councillors an estimate of when the light-rail transit system will be back up and running, but said he expects to get a possible date from the rail operator by the end of the week.

Councillors are preparing to sign off on filing a notice of dispute with Rideau Transit Group about recent derailments on the Confederation Line LRT.

During Wednesday’s meeting, they attempted to coax a timeline on when trains will get back on the track from city manager Steve Kanellakos, but were ultimately disappointed.

“I do not even have an estimate as to when that will happen,” Kanellakos said, acknowledging the frustration over the system entering its fourth week out of service.

Read more: Ottawa LRT inches towards relaunch with hiring of independent safety expert

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He did shut down what he called “rumours within RTG” that the consortium would request a three-month shutdown of the system in order to conduct necessary repairs.

“That’s absolutely false,” Kanellakos said, adding that he heard from RTG chief executive Nicolas Truchon in writing that no such request will be made.

Kanellakos added that he expects he will be able to provide a better date for a return-to-service by the end of this week, though he cautioned that the city’s independent safety experts will need to sign off on the plan before giving RTG the green light.

The city’s top bureaucrat did have details into what caused the derailment on Sept. 19 that damaged Tremblay Station and the surrounding infrastructure.

Read more: TSB probe shows damage to Ottawa LRT tracks, station in latest derailment

Kanellakos said that, according to train-maker Alstom, bolts to secure a gear box on the trailing train were not torqued properly. The box then came loose and was dislodged and dragged along the track, causing the damage and derailing the train, he said.

He added that infrastructure repairs related to the latest derailment should be completed by the end of the week.

Councillors passed a motion initially approved at last week’s finance and economic development committee to file a notice of dispute against RTG, ramping up legal pressure in ongoing proceedings against the consortium.

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Ottawa city council’s ongoing meeting on Wednesday will see councillors decide whether or not to call for a judicial inquiry into the Confederation Line and whether any breaches of trust occurred in procuring the $2.1-billion project.

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