OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa wants 14 trains running on the Confederation Line as of June 1, and 15 trains running during the morning peak period by August 4.

OC Transpo outlines its demands for the service level increase in a series of letters released by the City of Ottawa on Friday evening outlining its goals for fixing the six-month-old Confederation Line.

On Monday, Council voted unanimously to issue a Notice of Default to Rideau Transit Group over the ongoing issues with the Confederation Line. The notice gives Rideau Transit Group and Rideau Transit Maintenance until March 31 to present a plan to address the issues.

The City of Ottawa says it’s making four trains available from the Stage 2 fleet so Rideau Transit Group can increase service to the contract obligation of 15 trains in service during peak periods.

In a letter dated March 10, Ottawa’s Director of Rail Construction Program Michael Morgan writes to RTG CEO Peter Launch to provide notice of the letter of default.

“Simply put, the system that RTG has supplied is not performing consistently or reliably,” said Morgan.

The seven-page letter outlines the ongoing issues, with Morgan writing “at this point, the system has been operating for more than six months and the City has observed unacceptable levels of poor performance such that escalated measures are warranted.”

Morgan lists off a few “specific examples which demonstrate how poor the current service delivery has become:”

  • For 25 consecutive weekday rush hour periods between Jan. 16 and Feb. 3, RTG failed to deliver the required number of trains at peak service
  • RTG failed to provide the required number of trains on Feb. 7, Feb .10, Feb. 14 Feb. 17. Feb. 18, Feb. 21, Feb. 24, Feb. 26, Feb. 27, and Feb. 28
  • On Feb. 14, vehicle parts came loose while in service which damaged transponders on the western end of the alignment and caused service disruptions
  • On Feb. 20, brake faults reduced the fleet of vehicles
  • On Feb. 26, a failure of the overhead catenary system caused the catenary wire to drop. This event required passengers of two stopped trains to be evacuated
  • Supplementary heat to the vehicle driver cabs

Morgan writes “the City’s confidence in RTG’s ability to deliver the Maintenance Services has been eroded.”

List of items to fix

Morgan sent a second letter to RTG on March 11 to “detail the issues that (the City of Ottawa) expects to be addressed in RTG’s plan and schedule.”

The Remedy/Rectification Requirements are:

  1. Vehicles
  2. Other requirements
  3. Vehicle power systems – power systems
  4. Overhead Catenary System – Wire Failures
  5. Overhead Catenary System – Rigid Rail Failures
  6. Overhead Catenary System – Pantograph Integration
  7. Traction Power System Integration
  8. Switch Heater Rectification Plan
  9. Vehicle HVAC
  10. Vehicle Braking Systems – Integration Issues
  11. Vehicle Door Performance
  12. RTG/RTM Performance Reporting
  13. Guideway Intrusion Detection System

The City of Ottawa also wants a detailed plan to address additional vehicle issues, including compressor performance, driver cab – door program, spare part stocking levels, and staffing levels.

Morgan writes “the aforementioned list of issues is not exhaustive. Rather, the list is intended to illustrate examples of significant issues impacting its ability to provide the contracted for level of service to the City’s customers and to ensure the availability of the System to System User.”

Morgan adds “none of these issues should be a surprise to RTG and resolution of all of these items should be actively underway."

14 trains by June 1

Morgan says Rideau Transit Group will be receiving a Service Level Increase Notice. It will stipulate:

  • 14 trains in service as of June 1, 2020 during the morning peak period, one hot standby at the handover platform and a maintenance spare.
  • 15 trains in service as of August 4, 2020 during the morning Peak Period, one hot standby at the handover platform and a maintenance spare.

The City of Ottawa is making four additional spare vehicles from the Stage 2 fleet available for Rideau Transit Group.

Morgan writes “the availability of four additional spare vehicles from the Stage 2 fleet should reasonably allow RTG to meet its obligation for 15 trains in service.”

Sense of urgency?

Morgan’s letter on March 12 concludes with “the city has not to date observed any sense of urgency from RTG to address or resolve its performance issues and the issues with the system. The city is concerned about what new issues may be experienced in the coming months, including given the seasonal changes and requires that RTG consider such issues pro-actively in its plan and schedule.”