OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s Director of Rail Operations says Rideau Transit Group’s plan to fix the issues plaguing Ottawa’s seven-month-old Confederation Line didn't meet the city's requirements and is missing a timeline to fix the issues.

Michael Morgan told Council that RTG has outlined a number of short-term and long-term solutions to address the issues, but there was no deadline set for when riders will see improvements to the system.

Council received an update on Rideau Transit Group’s plan to address the issues with the Confederation Line Wednesday afternoon. On March 9, Council issued a notice of default to RTG, and gave the company until March 31 to submit a plan to address the issues.

In a letter to RTG, the city outlined a list of issues it expected to be addressed in the plan.

Staff says Rideau Transit Group proposed a number of short-term modifications over the next 10 months to address issues linked to vehicle shortages and service interruptions:

  • Vehicle brakes: Upgrade on train control planned for May 2020
  • Vehicle Passenger Doors: software upgrade planned for July 2020
  • Vehicle Traction Power: changes to the circuit breaker controls (June 2020), modification of the line contractors (April to October 2020), and replacement of inductors (July 2020 – February 2021)
  • Other software updates to infrastructure and vehicles.

Morgan says that the short-term fixes will have some benefits to the system, but staff will need to sit down with Rideau Transit Group to see if the fixes can be accelerated to “make the system perform at the level it should be.”

Rideau Transit Group also outlined a number of longer term modifications to address underlying reliability issues:

  • Overhead Catenary system: long term solutions required to resolve wire drop events and irregular wear pattern on pantographs
  • Switch Heaters: upgrade and modification plan
  • Vehicle HVAC: upgrade and modification plan
  • Plans for updated infrastructure to address issues such as platform heating, guideway intrusion systems, tunnel repairs, and resolution of issues such as noise at Hurdman tracks
  • Plans for updates to vehicle software systems including onboard cameras and next stop announcements are under review.

Morgan says Rideau Transit Group has increased resources to address the issues, but the city doesn’t know if the resources are enough.

Council was told that two vehicles are currently out of service due to issues with auxiliary power. The report shows Rideau Transit Group is facing a shortage of CVS (auxiliary power) units and there are at least two vehicles impacted by the shortage.

RTG didn’t meet the City of Ottawa’s requirements

Morgan told Council that that Rideau Transit Group “did respond to each of the individual items in our list that we provided them.”

But Morgan says the plan “didn’t provide an overall date back to the city on when we can expect service to improve. They’ve given us an action plan for each of the individual items … but they didn’t provide us kind of what are the outcomes, when are we going to see the service improvements.”

The City of Ottawa has gone back to Rideau Transit Group to discuss the issues and the timelines associated with the plan to address the issues.

“Our summary view on their plan is that it didn’t meet our requirements under the project agreement, so we’ve asked them for a revision of that plan,” said Morgan.

The City has asked RTG to revise its plan to include:

  • Provide greater details on how individual fixes contribute to service improvements and confirm when overall service will improve
  • Identify the critical activities that will have the greatest impact on performance outcomes and accelerate the timelines for that work; and,
  • Clearly demonstrate how resources are being assigned to critical work in order to ensure that performance can improve quickly.

Morgan promised to report back to Council in May

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic could slow down Rideau Transit Group's efforts to address the issues with the Confederation Line.

“Throughout their plan, the timelines and the details was heavily quantified by potential impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at issues with getting specialists from overseas, parts from overseas and even supply chains across North America are slowing down significantly,” said Morgan.