Parts of Ottawa’s problem-plagued LRT system shut down again due to weather

A train stops to pick up passengers on an empty platform at Tunney’s Pasture station.
A train on the Confederation line stops for passengers at Tunney’s Pasture Station. Charlie Senack File Photo

By Charlie Senack

Parts of Ottawa’s problem-plagued LRT system are again shut down after this week’s icy weather damaged wires. 

In a memo sent to the Mayor and members of council early Friday afternoon, Renée Amilcar, General Manager of OC Transpo, said no trains have run between Ottawa University and Hurdman stations since Wednesday night. 

“The ice buildup is significant which makes it more challenging to remove,” she said. 

Train service is running between Blair and Tremblay stations in the east, and between Tunney’s Pasture and uOttawa stations in the west. Replacement bus service is running between the closed stations.

On Wednesday night, a video was posted to Twitter showing blue and orange sparks flashing overhead of a moving train on the Confederation line near Hurdman Station. The City of Ottawa said that could happen during severe winter weather and doesn’t necessarily pose a safety risk.

At 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night, about 45 minutes after that video was posted, two trains stopped near that same section of track. OC Transpo said a buildup of ice was to blame. 

A third train carrying crews from Rideau Transit Maintenance was sent in at a low speed the next day, with an attachment called a winter carbon strip aimed to remove ice from the overhead wires. It too got stuck, further damaging the line. 

“(It) caused further damage to a short section of (the wire) which will require repairs,” OC Transpo’s general manager wrote. 

Amilcar noted: “RTM will use an alternative method to remove the ice buildup in this location.” 

That work is expected to continue through the weekend. No clear timelines have been given as to when full service will be restored.

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