Outside expert chosen to review LRT's eventual return to service

The City of Ottawa has asked STV Inc. to carry out an 'independent and impartial review' of any plan to get LRT trains back up and running after Sunday's derailment.

STV Inc. to review line's safety, but has been involved in Ottawa's LRT before

This LRT train derailed between Tremblay and Hurdman stations on Ottawa's Confederation Line on Sept. 19, 2021. It has since been taken back to the garage, and the line is out of service. (Nicholas Cleroux/Radio-Canada)

The City of Ottawa has selected a major North American rail industry firm to carry out an "independent and impartial review" of any plan to get LRT trains back up and running after Sunday's derailment.

A train derailed Sept. 19 as it entered Tremblay Station and then crossed a bridge over Riverside Drive with 12 passengers on board before coming to a stop, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

No one was hurt.

The two-year-old Confederation Line, however, is now out of service for up to three weeks, and replacement buses have been carrying riders in its place.

The incident took up much of the discussion at transit commission on Monday, when transportation general manager John Manconi said that consortium Rideau Transit Group's plans to resume service would need to get a second set of eyes from an independent safety expert.

Transit commission then approved a motion by chair Allan Hubley to hire one.

On Friday afternoon, city manager Steve Kanellakos released a memo saying the city had selected STV Inc., after consulting with Sam Berrada, council's light rail regulatory monitor and compliance officer.

"Based on Mr. Berrada's advice, the city has retained STV to undertake the independent and impartial review of the cause, actions, safety plan and return to service for Line 1," he wrote, noting such technical advice is difficult to obtain.

"STV is a North American professional firm with more than 40 years' experience in the rail transportation industry, with specialists in operations planning, vehicle technology, design and construction management," he added.

Kanellakos said STV is due to arrive in Ottawa Sept. 27.

From left: Mayor Jim Watson, Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge and former RTG CEO Peter Lauch sit down for a nearly hour-long meeting about the LRT handover in June 2019. Although not pictured here, STV's chief strategy officer also took part in that meeting. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Has history with Ottawa's rail network

The firm is not a stranger to the City of Ottawa or its rail system, however. 

When Rideau Transit Group was selected from three bidders to be awarded the contract for Stage 1 of LRT at a council meeting in December 2012, STV had developed the criteria for that procurement.

It had been part of the preliminary engineering team called Capital Transit Partners, along with staff from Morrison Hershfield Ltd., Jacobs Associates Canada Ltd., and URS Canada Inc.

The city later gave Capital Transit Partners — by this time made up of STV, Aecom and Morrison Hershfield — the contract for project management and preliminary engineering on the much larger Stage 2 of Ottawa's LRT, now under construction.

STV was to provide subject matter experts to review specialized or technical activities, according to a 2019 document.

The firm's former chief strategy officer was also present in June 2019, when Mayor Jim Watson gathered several executives involved in the construction of the Confederation Line in his boardroom at city hall.

The light rail project had missed several handover deadlines at that point, and the mayor said STV was doing independent oversight of the project.

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