UPDATED: Four stopped trains shuts down Ottawa’s LRT system amid freezing rain

The exterior of Tunney’s Pasture station.
Light rail transit service has been shut down after a power issue. File photo by Charlie Senack.

By Charlie Senack

Ottawa’s light rail transit system is fully shut down after a power issue resulted in four stopped trains.

The power outage comes as Ottawa is under a freezing rain warning.

“In anticipation of the forecasted freezing rain, trains were run continuously overnight and this morning 13 trains were running, 10 of which had winter carbons to reduce ice build-up on the overhead wires,” said OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar in a memo to the mayor and members of council. “Despite these precautions, five vehicles became immobilized and customers had to be safely evacuated.”

As a precaution, Amilcar said, they have shut down the line and implemented R1 bus service between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair stations, which is running every 20 minutes.

OC Transpo hasn’t given an estimate as to when service would be restored, and hasn’t said what caused the disruption in the first place. Amilcar said they will say more once Rideau Transit Group completes their investigation.

A Twitter user shared this photo after she was rescued from a train after it was stopped for two hours. She said OC Transpo did not communicate at all with the passengers during the incident. Twitter: @lizabeenthere.

The stuck trains resulted in some passengers being stuck for over two hours in some cases. A Twitter use said their train had been stuck on a bridge over the Rideau River for over an hour.

“When are you going to evacuate the train…,” they wrote. “We have gotten no updates whatsoever.”

Rideau Transit staff and firefighters were spotted cutting a fence near Lees station Wednesday morning to get trapped passengers off the stopped train.

Other transit riders complained of the long lines and wait times that were forming for R1 bus service.

“Thirty minutes after kicked off the LRT at St Laurent the first R1 west showed up. And it was packed. People left on the platform,” commented one Twitter user.

This is not the first time Ottawa’s three-year-old transit system has been forced to shut down during an ice storm. In January, the line was stopped for six days after freezing rain covered the overhead lines. It resulted in frozen wires and a section of the power system was damaged. Officials said it was the result of a “unique combination of factors.”

This is a developing story…

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