TSB investigating after problem with train's axle halts LRT service

Ottawa's Confederation LRT Line was out of service Monday and not expected to return to normal until Friday at the earliest after a train's axle became dislodged from the rail on the weekend.

Full Confederation Line service won't resume until Friday at earliest

Confederation Line closed after train axle leaves rail

1 year ago
Duration 0:32
A train was leaving Tunney’s Pasture station over the weekend when one of its axles became dislodged from the rail, leading OC Transpo to close the entire line while officials investigate.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada is investigating after the axle of a train on Ottawa's Confederation Line became dislodged from the rail Sunday, bringing LRT service to a halt.

The out-of-service train was leaving Tunney's Pasture station and heading to the maintenance facility Sunday when the operator experienced a "rough and bumpy ride," the city's director of transit operations Troy Charter told CBC Ottawa.

"On the trains, we have 10 axles and what happened was one of the axles had shifted off the track," he said.

Charter said the operator immediately stopped and reported the incident.

In a memo to council Monday evening, OC Transpo boss John Manconi said early indications are that the problem was caused by "a fault within the axle bearing assembly."

The light rail line will remain closed until a Rideau Transit Maintenance investigation can confirm the root cause of the derailment. 

The axle of an LRT train on Ottawa's Confederation Line came dislodged from the rail on Aug. 8, 2021, prompting an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. (Alexander Behne/CBC)

Inspections to take days

No passengers were on board at the time of the incident.

All trains will undergo an inspection, Manconi wrote in the memo, but said it will take several hours to examine each train, while work on the stopped train will take two days and require special equipment to inspect the train, track and other infrastructure.

 Service isn't expected to return to normal until Friday or Saturday, he said.

R1 replacement buses are running along the line instead.

A sign at uOttawa station alerts would-be LRT riders that the Confederation Line is closed on Aug. 9, 2021. Service was suspended Monday following a problem involving a train's axle. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

In a statement to CBC, the TSB said the incident occurred just after 8:30 p.m. when the empty two-car train was crossing from one track to another at the station and "one wheel on one of the cars derailed on a switch."

The TSB said it is continuing to gather information and assess how the incident occurred.

The TSB said it had sent a team of investigators to gather more information on what it called a "one-wheel" derailment at a switch just east of Tunney's Pasture.

It's the second time the TSB has dispatched investigators to look into problems with the LRT network. In July 2020, the agency launched a formal investigation into cracked train wheels.

'A major incident,' says transit commissioner

The Confederation Line has been plagued with issues since it opened almost a year behind schedule in September 2019.

The problems have ranged from jammed doors and cracked and flattened wheels to tracks that warp in hot temperatures.

Despite consistent problems, citizen transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert said Monday's dislodged axle is more than just another glitch.

"This is a major incident, and I think the city needs to take this seriously," she said. "If there were customers on that train, it would have been very disturbing for them."

Sarah Wright-Gilbert, a citizen transit commissioner, says she's frustrated to hear about the latest malfunction on the LRT's Confederation Line. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Wright-Gilbert said she's frustrated with the newest problem, but agrees with Manconi's decision to delay service until the track is in the safest possible condition.

"This is supposed to be a quote-unquote world class service. We paid $3.2 billion dollars for this," she said.

"It's frustrating when ... we're told at every single transit commission meeting about all the service that's being done to improve the service ... and then this happens."

With files from Ben Andrews, Kimberley Molina and Trevor Pritchard

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