Mayor gives Alstom, RTM officials 'come to Jesus' talk
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson has met with officials from Rideau Transit Group, Rideau Transit Maintenance and Alstom, for what he calls a 'come to Jesus' talk to fix Ottawa's two-year-old Confederation Line.
The Mayor's Office tells CTV News Ottawa Watson met Thursday morning zia Zoom with officials from the consortium running Ottawa's Light Rail Transit system and train-maker Alstom, four days after an LRT car derailed near Tremblay Station.
In an interview with Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts before the meeting, Watson said he would have a pointed discussion with officials to fix the LRT system after two derailments in six weeks.
"I'm going to basically give them a blast and tell them they have let down our city, they've let down our passengers, they've let down our council and they've let down their credibility as an organization," said Watson Thursday morning.
"I can't think that they're very proud of what's going on here, they've certainly told me that in the past. They're going to get a come to Jesus talk with me pushing them to get more resources here, higher skill set to go through every single train to make sure that this thing doesn't happen again."
On Sunday, an LRT train travelling westbound with 12 passengers and a rail operator onboard stopped near the Riverside Drive overpass after a set of wheels left the track. The derailment caused "significant damage" to the LRT car, the track and infrastructure.
On Tuesday, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said the LRT train actually derailed before entering Tremblay Station at approximately 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 19, approximately 500 metres from where the train stopped.
"The train then departed the station in the derailed condition and continued over the rail bridge that traversed Riverside Drive before striking a signal mast and switch heater that were adjacent to and north of track 1," said the TSB.
Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi told reporters on Wednesday OC Transpo and RTG are trying to determine where the train derailed.
"I saw some of the video footage, I can't tell you where it derailed, nor can my rail experts that have been operating trains for a very long time," said Manconi.
The derailed rail car returned to the Belfast maintenance and storage facility on Wednesday afternoon for further inspection.
Rideau Transit Maintenance has said it could be three weeks before rail service resumes.
It was the second derailment involving Ottawa's light rail transit system in six weeks.
On Aug. 8, an axle became dislodged from the track after a fault in the axle bearing assembly. The O-Train was shutdown for five days while RTM conducted inspections on all trains.
"My objective first and foremost is to get the system fixed, stabilize the system and grow the system so that we bring a higher degree of confidence back to the public, and the passengers in particular, who have lost obviously a lot of confidence in the system because of the last two episodes," said Watson.
"At the end of the day our job is to be, number one focus, get the system back up and running safely and to ensure that we've done everything we possibly can to provide reliable service. That's what the public wants."
Watson says OC Transpo will make sure the Confederation Line is "100 per cent safe" when it's relaunched, and signed off by all the safety experts.
"The number one of priority for me in the next few weeks is to get the system back running," said Watson.
"The train has now been removed off the site and is back in the maintenance facility, and as soon as we can get all of the crews to fix everything that was damaged as a result of that derailment on Sunday, we'll have to do that."
The LRT shutdown is frustrating transit users across the city.
Patsy Verdon’s grocery run, from Lebreton Flats to the St. Laurent Shopping Centre, would normally take about 15 minutes each way. However, with the R1 Replacement Bus Service running instead of the O-Train, her trip across the city will double.
"I depend on the LRT because of my wheelchair,” says Verdun, who has to wait at her bus stop in the rain. "It’s better on the LRT because you know it’s coming every three minutes. Here you don’t know when it’s coming, sometimes it’s very late. It is very frustrating it is always breaking down."
The Transportation Safety Board will provide the ultimate sign-off to clear the Confederation Line for a return to service.