Wednesday, May 22, 2024

LRT service resumes after damaged wire disrupts travel for hours

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OC Transpo says LRT service has resumed in full after more than seven hours of disruptions Wednesday.

The transit service announced just after 10 a.m. that there was a stopped train, and passengers could only use the eastbound platforms between uOttawa and Hurdman stations.

At 10:55 a.m., the transit service announced there was no LRT service between the three stations.Transit Services General Manager Renée Amilcar said in a memo that damage was found on the wires that power the train near Lees Station, described by Amilcar as a “gouge” in the overhead catenary system.

A stopped LRT train near Lees Station. Feb. 14, 2024. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

R1 bus service ran between Rideau and Hurdman stations, while LRT service continued to operate between Tunney’s Pasture and uOttawa and between Blair and Hurdman stations for much of the day. 

Amilcar said in a second memo at around 5:30 p.m. that full service had resumed.

“Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) were able to complete a splice repair to the Overhead Catenary System (OCS) near Lees Station and have completed all necessary inspections to confirm the system is safe to operate in the area. R1 bus service between Rideau and St-Laurent stations will conclude shortly,”  she wrote.

In a memo to council late Wednesday evening, Amilcar provided more details about the issue with the overhead catenary wire and the reason for the full LRT line was shut down between uOttawa and Hurdman stations.

Just before 10 a.m., a westbound train with approximately 50 customers onboard stopped outside of Lees Station after the vehicle experienced a power loss.

“Preliminary indications are that the power loss may have been due to a mechanical fault with the pantograph which subsequently caused minor damage to the overhead catenary wire,” Amilcar wrote.

At 10:40 a.m., a second train stopped near uOttawa Station due to an “unrelated mechanical issue,” Amilcar said.

“Due to the location of this stopped train, it was no longer possible to continue travelling through the single track corridor, and R1 bus service was implemented to keep customers moving,” Amilcar wrote, adding it was cleared from the line around 12:30 p.m. while repairs near Lees Station continued.

Both vehicles are undergoing further testing.

Amilcar says Rideau Transit Maintenance will continue a “more permanent repair” to the overhead wires this weekend during the maintenance period.

“At this time, it is not believed that this incident is related to current weather conditions or the issue that affected the OCS over the weekend.”

Passengers forced to disembark stopped train

Passengers on one of the trains that stopped on the line were forced to disembark and walk back to the nearest station Wednesday morning.

The wind chill was around -20 at the time.

“Pretty stressful, especially because there’s no answers on what’s going on,” said passenger Taylor Watson-Fluker, who goes to Carleton University. 

Watson-Fluker ultimately chose to take an Uber instead of waiting for a bus. 

Others chose to walk.

“It’s an awfully expensive thing to have not working. But I love the train when it’s running,” one passenger said.

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Peter Szperling and Josh Pringle 

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