RICKETY RAIL: OC Transpo hopes to cut downtime with Trillium Line equipment overhaul

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OC Transpo is bringing Trillium Line infrastructure up to date in an effort to improve reliability. (Lezumbalaberenjena/Wikimedia Commons/Public domain)

OC Transpo hopes to cut down on Trillium Line service disruptions by replacing decades-old infrastructure in two large projects over the next year.

The projects, budgeted at a combined $16 million, will replace old signalling equipment, rails and other components near Carleton University and an area near Walkley Road where trains enter and exit service. The projects began in March of this year.

“What we’ve seen in the last two years is… the majority of our service disruptions are at these two locations,” said Michael Morgan, OC Transpo director of rail operations, in an interview.

The line the train runs on is old and some of the equipment was installed in the 1960s, Morgan said. After the projects are complete, no component in use will be older than 2012.

One of the main causes of service disruptions on the Trillium Line is due to issues with the signalling system, Morgan said. Other common reasons OC Transpo cites are debris on track and issues with the vehicles.

Signal issues were blamed for a hold up that lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, on the afternoon of May 17 – less than an hour after one had already happened.

The first disruption of the day happened around 2:30 p.m. when one of the vehicles in service suffered a mechanical issue. Maintenance teams worked on the problem while bus route 107 replaced the train for about 20 minutes.

As the affected train was being taken out of service and headed to the train yard around 3:20 p.m., a signal issue caused service to stop again. OC Transpo described it as “an isolated problem that was quickly corrected” although service didn’t resume until 4:45 p.m.

So far this month the trains have stopped five times, according to OC Transpo’s Twitter feed, which tweets when there is a disruption. Vehicle issues caused two stoppages, another was for signal issues, one for a “track issues” and one for debris on the track.

Morgan said the disruptions are quite normal. OC Transpo does not keep track of a failure rate but estimates the Trillium Line is running 98 to 99 per cent of the time.

“It’s a good service,” he said. “If we actually look at the numbers we see performance is very good.”

The project near Carleton University costs about $5 million and when it wraps up after this summer riders should notice increased reliability, he said.

The other project near Walkley Road will take longer. It is budgeted at $11 million.

The transit agency is also looking at other projects, such as the possibility of adding double platforms at either ends of the line to allow trains to be temporarily taken out of service when they have issues without holding the others up.

“Right now… we have to stop all of the service,” when there is a vehicle issue, he said.

Improvements will continue into 2018 when work will begin to extend the Trillium Line south to Bowesville and the airport.


Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is an editor for OttawaStart.com and writes for our sister site StittsvilleCentral.ca. He studies journalism at Algonquin College. Follow him on Twitter @DevynBarrieNews.

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