Ottawa LRT expected to return in early November, city says

Ottawa's light rail line is expected to partially resume operations at some point in early November following an 'intensive inspection' of the train fleet, according to a memo from the city's manager.

7 trains, plus 1 spare, to potentially run on Confederation Line in partial resumption

Workers examine the Confederation Line tracks on Sept. 20, one day after this light rail train derailed near Tremblay station. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Ottawa's light rail line is expected to partially resume operations at some point in early November, according to a memo from the city's manager.

Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the consortium that built the Confederation Line, proposes running up to seven trains plus one spare as early as Nov. 1, Steve Kanellakos told councillors Monday afternoon.

However, those plans are contingent on RTG carrying out an "intensive inspection program on the vehicle fleet," Kanellakos wrote, meaning a partial return to service will likely happen "within the first two weeks of November."

The line has been shut down since a train derailed on Sept. 19 before entering Tremblay station.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has said the train came off the rails before arriving at the station. It then travelled across a rail bridge while a wheel remained off the track.

On the day of the derailment, the maintenance arm of the consortium said the line would likely remain out of service for at least a week, which then changed to an estimated three weeks the very next day.

"RTG has also committed to providing the City with a date to return to full service by the end of this week," Kanellakos wrote in his memo.

"The [line] will only resume service once the City deems RTG can relaunch light rail service safely and reliably."

How long has the LRT been out of service?

Testing days expected

The city has hired Philadelphia-based firm Transportation Research Associates (TRA) to review any proposal to resume service on the Confederation Line.

Kanellakos said TRA had already completed its "preliminary assessment" of the derailment and would now turn its focus toward the plan submitted by RTG.

Once TRA recommends the trains are ready to run again, the city will take steps to "verify RTG's ability to safely and reliably relaunch LRT," Kanellakos said.

That includes one or two days' worth of testing, he said.

As the line remains out of service, the city is escalating its legal dispute with RTG, while Ottawa's auditor general will examine the lead-up to the contract.

Transit riders, meanwhile, have expressed frustration with the cramped shuttle buses used to ferry people around during the shutdown.  A month of free transit is expected to come after trains are back.


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