Transcript: Tracking Ottawa's Light Rail Troubles | Nov 19, 2021

Jeyan Jeganathan sits at the Agenda news desk. He wears a navy blue suit and a burgundy tie. A monitor behind him reads “Ontario Hubs”. Jeyan clasps his hands as he rests them on the desk. Papers and a cell phone sit in front of him.

Text reads, “Tracking Ottawa’s LRT Troubles”

Jeyan begins,
LAST WEEK, SERVICE
RESUMED ON THE CONFEDERATION
LINE LRT IN THE NATION'S
CAPITAL.
IT'S BEEN QUITE A RIDE -- SO TO
SPEAK -- FOR THE LIGHT RAIL
TRANSIT SYSTEM.
WITH US NOW TO EXPLAIN IS SARAH
TRICK.
SHE IS AN ONTARIO HUBS EDITOR
AND SHE JOINS US NOW FROM
OTTAWA.
HELLO, SARAH.

Sarah waves.

She replies, HELLO, JEYAN.

Jeyan adds,
LET'S GO THROUGH THE
TIMELINE OF THE LRT PROJECT.
THE PROJECT STARTED IN DECEMBER
2012.
THE OTTAWA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES
THE PROJECT THAT YEAR.
CONSTRUCTION WOULD START IN
2013.
SEPTEMBER 2019, A WHOLE SIX
YEARS LATER AND A WHOLE YEAR
OVERDUE, THE CONFEDERATION LINE
LAUNCHINGS.
LESS THAN A MONTH LATER --
OCTOBER 2019 -- MULTIPLE SERVICE
DISRUPTIONS DUE TO TECHNICAL
ISSUES OCCUR.
BETWEEN 2019 IN DECEMBER TO
2020, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
TECHNICAL ISSUES CONTINUE.
FEWER TRAINS ARE IN SERVICE AS
WELL.
AND THEN WE MOVE INTO 2021.
AUGUST 8TH, 2021.
THE FIRST OF DERAILMENTS -- AN
EMPTY TRAIN DERAILS.
NO INJURIES THANKFULLY IN THAT
ONE.
SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021, JUST A
MONTH LATER, A TRAIN DERAILS.
DAMAGE IS HUNDREDS OF METRES OF
TRACK.
SERVICE IS SUSPENDED.
DOZENS OF PEOPLE ARE IN THE
TRAIN BUT THANKFULLY NO INJURIES
THERE AS WELL.
AND WE MOVE ON TO NOVEMBER
12TH, 2021.
SEVERAL MONTHS LATER.
PARTIAL SERVICE RESUMES.
THIS WAS JUST LAST WEEK.
AND THEN JUST THIS WEEK,
NOVEMBER 17TH, 2021, THE
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES A
PUBLIC INQUIRY.
A VERY BUSY, BUSY TIMELINE FOR
THIS LIGHT RAIL PROJECT HERE.
SARA, SARAH, LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
A BIT.
THIS PROJECT HAS A PRICE TAG OF
$2.1 BILLION.
LET'S START WITH WHY IT WAS
DELAYED A WHOLE YEAR.

Text reads, “Sarah Trick, Ontario Hubs Editor”

Sarah sits in a small office. Lights shine in through a window. Sarah wears a shiny black blouse. Her long brown hair flows down over her shoulder. Sarah’s glasses reflect the glare from a computer screen.

Text reads, “Tracking Ottawa’s LRT Troubles. The Challenges”

Sarah replies,
JEYAN, THERE'S NOT A
SINGLE RESPONSE HERE.
SOME BACKGROUND HERE.
THE TRAIN IS BEING BUILT AND IS
BEING RUN BY A CONSORTIUM OF
TRANSIT COMPANIES OPERATING
UNDER THE NAME OF RIDEAU TRANSIT
GROUP.
SO RIDEAU TRANSIT GROUP TRIED TO
CONSTRUCT THE TRAINS AND THEN
THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO HAND IT
OVER TO THE CITY OF OTTAWA.
AFTER WHICH THE CITY OF OTTAWAS
GOING TO COMPLETE ITS OWN
TESTING.
SO THERE WERE A LOT OF ISSUES
WITH THE CONSTRUCTION.
I THINK THE BIGGEST ONE WAS THE
SINKHOLE THAT HAPPENED IN 2016.
THERE WAS A MASSIVE SINKHOLE
UNDERNEATH RIDEAU STREET.
THAT OPENED UP THERE.
AND REALLY WAS RELATED TO THE
UNDERGROUND TUNNEL.
RIDEAU TRANSIT GROUP WANTED TO
GO TOWARD A PARTIAL OPEN OF THE
LINE BUT THE CITY SAID NO.
THEY WANT ADD FULL LINE OPENING.
THEY WERE ALSO MISSING PARTS
AND JUST OTHER DELAYS.

Jeyan responds,
LET'S TALK ABOUT
THERE'S LOTS OF EXCITEMENT WITH
THE LAUNCH OF THIS -- OF THE
TRANSIT SYSTEM HERE.
BUT IT WAS ONLY A FEW MONTHS
LATER THAT THERE WERE TECHNICAL
AND MECHANICAL ISSUES.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THOSE ISSUES
THAT SORT OF LED TO THE CHAOS
THAT A LOT OF US HAVE SEEN
PHOTOS OF LARGE CROWDS PACKED ON
SORT OF THE OUTSIDE WAITING FOR
TRAINS?

Sarah states,
I AM GOING TO CORRECT
YOU THERE.
IT WAS ACTUALLY A COUPLE OF
WEEKS.
SO WHAT HAPPENED WAS IN THE
FIRST COUPLE OF WEEKS THAT THE
TRAIN WAS IN SERVICE, EVERYTHING
SEEMED GREAT.
BUT AT THAT TIME THERE WERE ALSO
PARALLEL BUS ROUTES STILL
RUNNING WHILE PEOPLE GOT USED TO
THE TRAIN.
SO PEOPLE COULD TAKE THE BUS OR
THE TRAIN TO WHEREVER THEY HAD
TO GO.
AND THEN AFTER A COUPLE OF WEEKS
AND EVERYTHING WORKED SMOOTHLY,
THEY TOOK THOSE BUS ROUTES OFF
THE STREETS AND THE IDEA WAS
THAT EVERYONE WOULD USE THE
O TRAIN AFTER THAT.
BASICALLY, IN THE COUPLE
OF DAYS AFTER THAT, WHICH I
THINK WAS OCTOBER 6TH, THERE
STARTED TO BE ISSUES WITH THE
DOORS.
SO THE DOORS WERE ON A TIMER, AS
I UNDERSTAND IT, AND AS PEOPLE
TRIED TO OPEN THE DOORS, IT
WOULD BASICALLY STOP THE TRAIN.
IT WOULD FREEZE IT.
BECAUSE THEY WERE USING DOOR
BOLTS.
AND THAT WOULD BRING THE ENTIRE
SYSTEM TO A HALT.
BASICALLY.
SO DURING THAT WEEK, THERE WERE
ISSUES WITH THE DOORS, ISSUES
WITH THE COMPUTERS.
THE ISSUES WITH THE COMPUTERS
CONTINUED.
ONE THE DOOR ISSUE WAS
FIXED THERE WERE ISSUES WITH THE
TRAINS DRIVING THAT WINTER.
WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SPECIAL
ABOUT THESE TRAINS IS THAT THE
TRAINS WERE SPECIFICALLY
DESIGNED FOR NORTH AMERICAN
WINTERS.
IT WAS AN UPDATE OF AN OLDER
MODEL THAT ALLOWED FOR WINTER
CONDITIONS AND IT WAS
SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO WORK IN
OTTAWA.
SO EVERYBODY WAS REALLY EXCITED
ABOUT THESE TRAINS FOR THAT
REASON.
BUT THEN THE TRAIN COMPUTERS
COULDN'T -- THE TRAINS COULDN'T
GO THROUGH SNOW.
THE SWITCHES ON TRAINS WOULD
FREEZE.
THINGS LIKE THAT.
AND SO THERE WAS A LOT OF
TECHNICAL ISSUES STARTING THAT
WINTER.

Jeyan adds,
NOW, DERAILMENTS ARE
FAIRLY SERIOUS EVENTS.
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT THE MOST
RECENT ONE, THE ONE IN
SEPTEMBER.
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED IN THAT
CASE THAT CAUSED, YOU KNOW, THE
TRAIN TO COMPLETELY FALL OFF AND
DAMAGE HUNDREDS OF METRES OF
TRACK?

Sarah replies,
THE SEPTEMBER DERAILMENT.
THE TRAIN CAME OFF THE TRACKS.
TRAVELLED IN A DERAILED STATE --
INCLUDING OVER A BRIDGE -- AND
THEN EVENTUALLY STOPPED -- CAME
TO A STOP WHEN IT COLLIDED WITH
A SIGNAL BOX. AND IN THAT CASE,
THE TRAIN WAS OUT OF SERVICE
FOR FIFTY-FOUR DAYS AND
IT CAME OUT IN A TRANSPORTATION
AND SAFETY BOARD REPORT THAT THE
SECOND DERAILMENT WAS DUE TO
"INCONSISTENT AND INCOMPLETE
MAINTENANCE" FOLLOWING THE FIRST
DERAILMENT.
SO MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES WERE
NOT LOGGED CORRECTLY AND CERTAIN
PROCEDURES THAT NEEDED TO BE
DONE AFTER THE FIRST DERAILMENT
WERE NOT TREATED PROPERLY.

Jeyan asks,
SARAH, THE ONTARIO
GOVERNMENT JUST ANNOUNCED A
PUBLIC INQUIRY.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THAT AND
WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT THAT?

Text reads, “Tracking Ottawa’s LRT Troubles. Revelations and Solution”

Sarah responds,
! AM NOT SURE WHAT TO
KNOW ABOUT THAT BECAUSE THE
PARAMETERS HAVE NOT BEEN
ANNOUNCED AS OF NOW.
AND DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE HAS
BEEN -- THERE HAVE BEEN A COUPLE
OF MOTIONS IN CITY COUNCIL FOR A
JUDICIAL INQUIRY BOTH OF WHICH
HAVE BEEN DEFEATED.
PARTIALLY BECAUSE OF THE AMOUNT
OF TIME THAT THE JUDICIAL
INQUIRY WOULD TAKE.
THE JUDICIAL -- THE PROVINCIAL
INQUIRY WOULD NOT HAVE THE SAME
SCOPE AS A JUDICIAL INQUIRY BUT
IT IS HOPED THERE WILL BE
ANSWERS BROUGHT FORWARD BY IT.

Jeyan says,
WE'LL KEEP AN EYE OUT ON THAT.
AND AS WE KNOW SERVICE RESUMED
JUST LAST WEEK LOT OF PEOPLE
WILL BE LOOKING AT THAT AS WELL.
THANK YOU SARAH, REALLY
APPRECIATE IT.

Sarah responds, THANK YOU.

Text reads, “Tracking Ottawa’s LRT Troubles. Produced by Carla Lucchetta @carrletta”

Text continues, “Ontario Hubs are made possible by: The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman”

Watch: Tracking Ottawa's Light Rail Troubles