- Ottawa Lookout
- LRT service issues expected until at least Tuesday
LRT service issues expected until at least Tuesday
LRT woes continue as attempts to clear trains further damaged the system this weekend.
Well, this is neat, isn’t it? A brand new look for the Lookout. We hope you like it as much as we do. For a while now, we’ve felt that there was a little something missing from the newsletter, with this new look we think we’ve got that sorted.
Let us know what you think of the new look! It may take a bit of getting used to, but change is good once in a while.
Plus, stay tuned for some other exciting announcements this week…
A quick note of correction: In last Friday’s issue, I got my math all wrong because I forgot that we are, in fact, in 2023. The ice storm of 1998 was indeed 25 years ago, not 24 as I’d written.
Anyway, we should probably get to the newsletter itself. Would you believe it’s once again about the broken LRT? I bet you would.
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Monday: -1 🌡️ -12 | ❄️
Tuesday: -6 🌡️ -11 | ☀️
Wednesday: -6 🌡️ -6 | ❄️
LRT repair progress: Transit crews will be working this week to finish repairs on the LRT to get it back up and running. If things go well, the LRT will be only closed until Tuesday. (Much, much more on this below.)
Back to school, back to work: The holidays are officially over, as the little ones get back to class as the rest of us get back to work at a full clip.
The ‘ongoing saga’ of a broken LRT as system partially shutdown for weekend
What happened: Just as school and work get back into full swing, the LRT will remain partially closed until at least Tuesday, Ottawa transit general manager Renée Amilcar said Sunday night. Two trains stalled Wednesday night during the freezing rain, and have not yet been recovered.
Check the OC Transpo Twitter account for the latest updates about this morning’s service.
Multiple attempts to clear ice from the LRT power system and retrieve trains stuck near Hurdman and Lees station resulted in the overhead wiring breaking more than once, the city said in a memo.
Crews were able to clear track one of trains, but there are still two disabled trains on track two.
The problem(s): Two attempts to retrieve the trains failed. The first attempt was to bring a train in at low speed with a special carbon attachment to the power system to generate heat and de-ice the line. That attempt snapped the overhead wire, which then had to be repaired.
Another train was then sent in to try and tow one of the previously stalled trains out, that also damaged the power line.
Because of these further breakages, teams had to thoroughly inspect the power lines on a 2.8 kilometre stretch of the track before more work could be done.
Rideau Transit CEO Mario Guerra said there was nothing particularly catastrophic about the freezing rain, but the speed things broke down did surprise the train’s private-sector operator. “We don't believe there's any issues with the system and that's why our focus is going to be on preemptive actions,” he said.
Service level: Through the weekend, the LRT was running in two loops, one in the west and one in the east. Buses ran between St. Laurent and uOttawa stations where the trains couldn’t run.
The latest: Last night, city officials said the LRT will continue to be closed between St. Laurent and uOttawa, with bus service running between the stations. There will be extra R1 service from Blair to Rideau. This is likely to continue until at least Tuesday.
Knock-on effects: Almicar said Sunday OC Transpo was working to bring in extra buses to minimize the effects of increased R1 bus service. Over time, using these buses could mean reduced bus service in other parts of the system, CTV reported.
“Our commitment is to continue to provide R1 with as frequent a service as possible, but I do need to be 100 percent transparent and honest in this regard, we do know that there will likely be other impacts to increasing cancellations in other parts of the system,” transit director Troy Charter told the broadcaster.
Mayor’s response: Mayor Mark Sutcliffe told CFRA he was “as frustrated as anyone” and said extra expertise had been brought in to oversee the LRT. He also said it was encouraging that the city, OC Transpo and the private consortium that runs the trains were working well together.
“Whenever an event happens with our light rail system, it’s adding to a list. It’s not an isolated event; it’s part of an ongoing saga of this story we’ve had playing out over the last roughly four years now,” Sutcliffe said to CFRA.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🌡️ -15 C: For only the third time ever, Ottawa’s temperature stayed above this level for the whole of December. The lowest temperature was -13.2 C. [Ottawa Weather Records]
⛽️ 140.9: The price gas (in cents) was expected to drop to today. Gas prices have dropped almost 10 cents this week. [CityNews]
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OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🚔 216 km/h: The speed a driver was caught driving on the 401 near Kingston. [CTV]
⛺️ 70: The number of people without housing will be evicted from an encampment in Kingston. [CBC]
Charges laid in Eastway Tank explosion
What happened: Eastway Tank and its owner Neil Greene were charged with offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for the explosion that killed six people last winter. Greene and his company are charged with three counts each for safety failures that led to the deadly explosion, CTV reported.
From the past: Former Eastway employees allege lax safety standards before deadly explosion. [CBC]
The charges allege Greene failed to ensure the fill testing of the fuel tank on the truck that exploded was carried out in an area without sources of ignition.
The charges also allege that the testing liquid used to test that truck was free of contamination of gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Possible penalties: Grene could face a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail, and the company could be fined as much as $1.5 million. The charges are not criminal, and police and the fire marshall said their investigations of the explosion continue.
Family reaction: Several family members of the victims told CBC they were disappointed at the low ceiling for fines and jail time. They felt the year of jail time and the cap on fines wouldn’t atone for the loss of six lives.
The son of one of the blast’s victims said beyond charges, there needs to be higher safety standards. “I worked for so many lax companies. It's not just Eastway. … As a country we need better safety standards and enforcement, specifically on sectors where lives are in jeopardy the most,” Josh Bastien told CBC.
The charges have not been proven in court, the first court date is scheduled for Feb. 17
NEW LOCAL JOBS
Check out the new open positions in Ottawa.
⛪️ The owner of St. Brigid’s church said the group that occupied the church damaged the building and took some items. The group’s leader denied anything was taken. [CTV]
🎄 Bylaw was called on a resident who put up Christmas lights and added chairs in a park in New Edinburgh. [CBC]
🤝 The St. Margaret Mary church that has been empty for three years in Old Ottawa South will be converted into a mosque and community centre. [CBC]
🚒 A woman in her 70s was injured when her car rolled over near Trainyards in a single-vehicle crash. Firefighters had to free her from the flipped car. [CTV]
🚨 Police are looking for witnesses of a shooting in Carlington on Saturday. No one was hurt, but police think the incident was a targeted shooting. [CTV]
St. Isidore’s Valérie Grenier won gold in giant slalom, the first Canadian to win gold at a World Cup race since 1974. [CBC]
Did you miss our food editor Ralf’s most surprising food spots and restaurants of 2022? Many are real hidden gems.
There were some gorgeous ice pillars over Nepean this weekend, as captured by Reddit user jinxylynxy. [Reddit]
Tim Stützle’s second-career hat trick wasn’t enough to get the Sens past the Seattle Kraken, who won 8-4. [The Canadian Press]
Brigid’s Well, the bar in the basement of St. Brigid’s, has reopened!
Someone in Sandy Hill has lost their wallet with all their cards in it, and are promising a reward if it’s returned. [Reddit]
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Your guide for the week
The World of Jazz, Thursday 7pm: Head on out to the Apothecary Lounge at 54 York St. for an evening of live jazz and great cocktails. Free admission.
Prince Sign “O” The Times, Saturday 7 pm: Catch a screening of the legendary concert film, directed by the late musician himself. Screening at the Museum of History in Gatineau. Free registration.
Juno Reactor Audio Visual Experience, Saturday 9 pm: A screening of a 2006 Juno Reactor performance, also at the Museum of History. Free registration.
Galapagos Conservation, an Insider’s Perspective, Thursday 6:45 pm: A presentation by Marc Patry on the conservations challenges in the Galapagos who has spent years working to protect the islands. Takes place at the Sunnyside branch of the Ottawa Public Library, 1049 Bank St. Admission is free.
Joanne Miller/Ottawa Lookout Reader
Today’s photo comes courtesy of Joanne Miller who took this great shot of the Rideau Canal last weekend.
Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Lookout readers? Send it our way!
Congrats to everyone who got last week’s Ottawa World, which was SLEET. As in all that sleet we got last week.
For the Ottawa Quiz this week, we want to know something (surprise!) train related. The LRT has been running reasonably well lately, but not perfectly. When was the last time the city had to turn to replacement bus service to make up for an LRT failure? The first five people to write in with the correct answer will get their names mentioned in the next issue.
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