Ottawa

LRT train derailed before entering station, then travelled across a bridge, says TSB

The LRT train that derailed Sunday afternoon came off the track before entering Tremblay station — and travelled across a rail bridge while a wheel remained off the track, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Loose gear box thought to be the cause of derailment, according to sources

Emergency vehicles are parked near the scene of a derailed LRT train in Ottawa on Sunday. (Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada)

The LRT train that derailed Sunday afternoon came off the track before entering Tremblay station — and travelled across a rail bridge while a wheel remained off the track, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

As well, it appears a loose gear box appears to have caused the derailment, according to CBC sources, and not a bracket from a sand dispenser, as was suggested Monday. 

Transit commission heard Monday a westbound train came to stop between Tremblay and Hurdman station, but at no time did anyone from OC Transpo say where the derailment took place.

The map shows the path of the LRT train that was derailed on Sept. 19, 2021. (CBC)

The TSB, which sent a team of investigators to assess the derailment, said Tuesday the train derailed as it entered Tremblay station.

"The train then departed the station in the derailed condition and continued over the rail bridge that traversed Riverside Drive before striking a signal mast and switch heater that were adjacent to and north of track 1," according to a statement.

It's still unclear when the city, Rideau Transit and the TSB investigator made this discovery as those details were not discussed at Monday's transit commission meeting. 

At the meeting, transportation general manager John Manconi told the transit commission that a bracket that holds a sand-dispensing unit on the train appeared to have become dislodged and could have caused the derailment.

He underscored the finding was by no means conclusive and sources said Tuesday that finding indeed seems incorrect.

It's not known why neither the operator nor the LRT's central control system was aware a wheel was off the track while it travelled for about 400 metres over Riverside Drive.

This slide details what the City of Ottawa shared about the latest LRT derailment at Monday's transit commission meeting. (City of Ottawa)

City says investigation ongoing

Officials with the city did not answer CBC's questions about when authorities learned of where the derailment began.

"The investigation is ongoing, and the situation is fluid," said transit operations director Troy Charter in an email.  "The investigation is looking at the vehicle and track infrastructure to determine what occurred."

The statement went onto say there could be "multiple factors that may have contributed to the derailment and all possibilities are being examined.

"We have not received a definitive determination on the cause of the accident from the investigating bodies."

In a statement released Tuesday evening, Manconi said his department was not aware a report from the TSB would be released "nor were we aware of the content and the specifics which have not been validated by us."

"We are following up with them asking that they share any and all information that is released publicly so that we can keep City Council informed of any developments," the statement read.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declined an interview with CBC. He then announced via Twitter he would move a notice of motion at Wednesday's council meeting to propose free transit service for all transit customers for the month of December.

Transit commission chair, Coun. Allan Hubley, also declined CBC's request for comment.

Demand for public inquiry

The new details of Sunday's derailment "shocked" Coun. Diane Deans, who also tweeted an image of a lemon to describe the LRT system. 

"I would like to know when the mayor and the chair and the city manager and the general manager of OC Transpo got this information," said Deans.

"My sense is there's a real aversion to sharing timely and fulsome information with the public."

Coun. Catherine McKenney said they had doubts the newly released information from the TSB was not in the city's hands before Monday's meeting.

McKenney wants a full public inquiry into the LRT bid, contract and everything else from the consortium leading up to the launch two years ago.

"Taxpayers have paid over $6 billion ... and we do not have one train on a track today, and that is unconscionable," said McKenney.

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