Bearing issue results in full LRT closure

A sign at Tunney’s Pasture station notified commuters of the LRT system closure.
Ottawa’s light rail transit system shutdown on July 17 after an issue with a bearing. Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Charlie Senack

Another day, another light rail transit shutdown. Or one could say a headline that keeps rewriting itself.

Just as commuters were starting to travel home from work at around 5:00 p.m. on July 7, OC Transpo shutdown the entire Line 1 system.

“A routine inspection revealed an issue with a bearing,” according to Renée Amilcar, OC Transpo General Manager.

R1 bus service is in place for the entire line from Tunney’s Pasture Station to Blair Station.

Passengers who were on board trains were quickly escorted off. The doors of light rail transit stations are now locked. 

Some commuters said it took them over 45 to find a replacement bus to take home. 

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said it’s “frustrating” when shutdowns like this occur.

“Safety and caution must always come first, and we must demand the highest quality standards from the companies manufacturing, maintaining, and fixing the service,” he wrote on Twitter. “With every issue that is identified and fixed by our contractors, we will be one step closer to providing residents with the light rail service they paid for and deserve.”

Ottawa’s three-year-old light rail transit system has faced various rounds of shutdowns and disruptions since it first launched in Sept. 2019. 

In Aug. 2021, a derailment at Tunney’s Pasture occurred after an “undetected catastrophic roller bearing failure.”

In January of this year, 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.” Then in April, the system closed again after four trains stopped on the tracks during another ice storm.

In this instance, it’s unclear when the Confederation Line system will be up and running or where the problem occurred.

This is a developing story. More to come…

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