Skip to main content

Here's when Ottawa's LRT is expected to start running again


The wheel hub assemblies on Ottawa's light rail vehicles that run on Line 1 will be completely redesigned in an effort to find a permanent solution to problems that have plagued the line, including the most recent shutdown.

In a news conference Monday, officials with OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group (RTG) announced they are working with Alstom, the manufacturer of the trains that run on the Confederation Line, to redesign the axles and wheel hub assemblies on every vehicle. It's a task transit services general manager Renée Amilcar says will provide a permanent fix to the problems linked to the August 2021 derailment and other issues.

"I am very pleased to announce that Alstom and RTG have agreed to a design modification to the wheel hub assembly," Amilcar said. "This means that Ottawa will finally have a permanent fix to this bearing issue, which will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of Line 1."

Rideau Transit Group estimates it will take 12 to 18 months to design and test a new axle and ensure it is "fit for purpose," RTG's Nicholas Truchon said.

In the meantime, LRT service will remain offline for at least another week. OC Transpo plans to resume some level of service July 31, but the exact details have yet to be announced. Daily media briefings this week have been promised.

Other measures have been or will be taken on the tracks themselves, including a plan to apply grease to several tight curves on the line to reduce pressure on the wheels and axles of the trains.

"Equipment on the wayside, at the side of the track, will apply lubrication to the top of the rails at the curves, the tight curves," said director of engineering services Richard Holder. "This is not across the whole system. We think we have 16 locations whereby the addition of grease or lubricant to the top of the rail will be able to minimize forces on the axle."

Holder also said it would take "some weeks" for that initiative to be installed. He said work is also underway to install restraining rails in optimum positions to minimize forces on the axle hub. The remaining work is expected to be completed by Sunday.

Despite findings this week that "repetitive loading cycles contribute to degraded performance," according to a memo from Amilcar, Holder said there is no plan to limit the number of customers on each train once service resumes.

The O-Train was abruptly shut down last Monday after an axle bearing issue was discovered on one train during a routine 50,000 km inspection. City officials said all 45 trains would need to be inspected as part of the root cause investigation into the issue before LRT service resumes.

Amilcar says 44 LRT vehicles have been checked, with six LRT vehicles "being investigated further." One vehicle that was previously out of service is in Kingston and the inspection will be completed at a later date.

A visual inspection of the track has been conducted, and no issues were identified, Amilcar said.

Amilcar says OC Transpo continues to meet with Rideau Transit Group and Alstom to finalize the return-to-service plan "that is sustainable."

"Our focus is ensuring the increased reliability and long-term sustainability of the system," Amilcar said in a memo.

R1 replacement bus service continues to run between Blair and Tunney's Pasture stations, with 36 buses running during peak periods. In downtown Ottawa, R1 buses will run down Albert and Slater streets, instead of Queen Street, in a bid to reduce delays and avoid traffic.

Amilcar said that the cost to redesign, test and replace the wheel hub assemblies on every light rail vehicle would be borne by RTG and not taxpayers, and that the city would be using its project agreement with RTG to withhold payments for undelivered service on the line. She did not say whether OC Transpo would compensate transit users for the disruption, emphasizing that her immediate goal is to restore train service as soon as it is safe to do so.

When asked whether there would be any work to bolster bus service while the city waits for the wheel hub redesign, Amilcar only said that restoring train service is the primary goal.

"We cannot replace a train by buses so our goal is to continue to work with the consortium and bring a reliable, safe rail," she said. "We will continue to improve the current system, the current fleet, to be able to resume the service. Our goal today is to resume safely the service with mitigation measures and in parallel work on the permanent fix by the redesign of the axle."

R1 service pulls hundreds of buses from other routes to supply service along the LRT line when it is not working. According to statistics provided by the city last week, 1,070 bus trips were not delivered last Tuesday to Thursday, 441 of which were reassigned to R1 service.

Latest shutdown 'incredibly frustrating and unacceptable': Sutcliffe

Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe said at Monday's press conference he's extremely frustrated with the condition of the four-year-old, $2.1 billion light rail system.

"I assure you that I and everyone at the city and OC Transpo will not rest until you have a safe, reliable, light rail system. The system you expect and the system all of us paid for," he said.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our passengers and our residents. That's why, whenever there's an issue with the system, we must act with an abundance of caution and we won't start running the trains again until we are sure that they are safe."

Sutcliffe said he was hopeful that the redesign of the wheel hub assembly would bring an end to some of the issues that have troubled the line since it launched.

"That alone will not solve all of our issues, but I and the team at OC Transpo are hopeful that this redesign will be a giant step forward. At last, we are working on the root problem and not just the issues that arise from it," he said.

"I believe that, one day, we will have a safe, reliable light rail service for the people of Ottawa… and this work is bringing us closer to that day."

R1 service on Albert and Slater streets

R1 replacement buses continue to run along Albert and Slater streets in downtown Ottawa, serving riders at Parliament and Lyon stations.

  • Westbound R1 buses will run on Albert Street with stops at Bank and Kent
  • Eastbound R1 buses will run on Slater Street with stops at Kent and O’Connor
  • OC Transpo staff will be at stations to assist customers.

Lees Station

OC Transpo has also made changes to the R1 buses serving Lees Station.

A shuttle bus is now running between Lees and Rideau stations for westbound commuters.

For customers, this means:

  • Westbound R1 service will run from Blair to Tunney’s Pasture stations, stopping at each station except for Lees Station
  • A shuttle will run between Lees, uOttawa and Rideau stations
  • Customers travelling to Lees Station from the east can connect with the shuttle and Eastbound R1 service at uOttawa Station
  • Eastbound R1 service will continue to serve Lees Station Top Stories

Stay Connected