The city’s transit general manager, Renée Amilcar, assured council that the LRT is safe and that OC Transpo is following the TSB’s suggestions
The axle assemblies on Ottawa’s LRT trains that have caused two derailments and suffered “a near catastrophic component failure” continue to pose a safety risk and must be fixed “to protect the travelling public,” the Transportation Safety Board has said in a rail safety advisory.
The board’s advisory, sent to the city on Feb. 3 and released Wednesday, includes analysis of three incidents since July 2021 in which the cartridge assemblies that connect the wheels and axles to the drive train have broken. While it notes all the components met the design specifications, the cartridges have broken nevertheless — and in different ways.
“The observed damage was widely spread throughout the assemblies and was not limited to any one particular component,” the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) advisory states.
It also notes that a Rail Safety Advisory (RSA) letter sent to the city in September 2021 suggested that, in addition to regular checks for loose-fitting components that could indicate wear and tear, Ottawa’s LRT system could also have temperature monitors installed. The monitors could warn if the axle assemblies on its light-rail vehicles (LRV) are overheating “in a timely manner.”
That way, someone could intervene “before an in-service catastrophic failure occurs,” the safety board wrote in September 2021. But that hasn’t been done, the board stated.
“To date, other than ongoing cartridge assembly free play monitoring, no concrete steps have been taken to resolve the safety deficiency identified in the RSA,” it said in the Feb. 3 safety advisory.
In a memo to city council Wednesday, the city’s transit general manager, Renée Amilcar, assured council that the LRT is safe and that OC Transpo is following the TSB’s suggestions.
“After reviewing the letter, OC Transpo and (Rideau Transit Group, the consortium contracted to build the first stage of LRT) can confirm that all enhanced system safety measures in place align with TSB suggestions,” Amilcar’s memo stated.
Amilcar said RTG has confirmed to the city in writing that the Confederation Line is safe.
“Staff are currently reviewing TSB’s findings in detail; this information will assist RTG in completing the final root cause analysis into the wheel axle hub assembly issue.”
All LRT vehicles are inspected daily before launch, Amilcar said. Leading and trailing bogies are replaced every 175,000 km while the other, non-motorized axle assemblies are inspected more frequently in accordance with the TSB’s recommendations, she said.
Temporary speed reductions are also in place at various points along the Confederation Line to reduce wear and tear, she said.
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