Ottawa’s Troubled LRT, Er……. Light Metro ~ Updated


City manager Steve Kanellakos said Rideau Transit Group reported on the root cause of the derailment: a gearbox came loose and dragged along the tracks. Kanellakos said RTG learned the gearbox bolts weren’t torqued properly.


What was going to be a showcase LRT has turned into a Light Metro fiasco.

When politicians get involved with a transit project, especially a rail projects, things get derailed quite easily.

Some historical context:

In September 2009, the City of Ottawa paid Siemens Canada Limited, PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Ottawa LRT Corp. and St. Lawrence Cement Inc. the sum of $36,718,500.00 in order to settle their lawsuit for the wrongful termination of a contract for the design, construction and maintenance of a light rail transit system in Ottawa.
The project consisted of 27 kms of electrified track, 21 specially designed and built vehicles, associated mechanical and electrical equipment and various buildings.  Construction was to begin on October 15, 2006.  The project was a public-private partnership between the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada each agreeing to contribute $200 million in funding.
In October 2006, the Government of Canada announced that its funding contribution was conditional upon receiving a notice of support for the project from the newly elected City Council following the November 2006 municipal election.  Following the municipal election, the newly elected council voted to change the scope of the project.  The Federal and Provincial governments would not guarantee funding for the changed scope.  In response, Ottawa terminated the contract on the basis that the condition precedent of funding from Provincial and Federal government had not been satisfied. The Project Agreement had limitation of liability clauses which purported to cap the plaintiff’s recovery at $2 million.
In June 2007, the plaintiffs commenced an action in Superior Court in Brampton, alleging fundamental breach and breach of the obligation to perform the Project Agreement in good faith. Brampton is the jurisdiction in which the lead plaintiffs were headquartered.  In September 2008, the City of Ottawa’s motion for a change of venue from Brampton to Ottawa was dismissed. In September 2009 a settlement of the action was reached on the basis of a payment of $36, 718,500.00.  Siemens Canada Limited, PCL Constructors and the Ottawa LRT Corp. were represented by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Dean Novak, Siemens Canada Limited’s Assistant General Counsel, and Douglas Stollery, Q.C. General Counsel of PCL Constructors.

That’s right, Siemens was going to build a 27 km LRT system for $1 billion and a change of government, changed  it to a $2.1 billion 12.5 km light metro.

So, the politicians in Ottawa built a light metro instead, but by using modern trams, they could call it LRT.

Sounds very familiar doesn’t it. Well it should because after the 2018 civic elections, the new Surrey mayor rejected a $1.63 billion LRT to Newton and Langley, for a now over $4 billion, 16km  light-metro extension to Langley instead!

The following is a long read and Zwei will comment where deemed necessary.

Why the bumpy, two-year ride of Ottawa’s multi billion-dollar LRT system is sparking calls for a public inquiry


3 Responses to “Ottawa’s Troubled LRT, Er……. Light Metro ~ Updated”
  1. Haveacow says:

    During the first round of troubles I and several other local people were hired, on a temporary basis to monitor maintenance practices. I can say this now because I don’t work for/with the City, RTG and RTM, wow it needed a lot of reorganization When Covid hit, we had everything humming along. When there was a problem no one could explain, the rule was no matter what, call Transport Canada. Problems were identified and solved solutions and even a few opportunities were followed to improve operations. Then they let us go 8 months later axle issues, now this. When we asked if our monitoring group would be hired back, all we got from everyone involved was silence. So nobody is more interested then me to here the answers of the independent audit that is occurring and the TSB results from the new derailment.

  2. zweisystem says:

    I was told some time ago and con firmed by a few stories by Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight (the Straight was for some time the main source of transit news in metro Vancouver) that the ALRT/Expo line transit system had serious teething problems. The UTDC shoveled tens of millions of dollars trying to fix the problems and the mainstream media remained deaf to most of the ills.

    The overcrowding that the mews media tried to pretend was the success of the system was caused by trains out of service this headway’s went from 5 minutes to ten minutes on many days.

    This went on until the fiasco snow fall in the early 90’s when the system collapsed. It was the many problems and issues with Vancouver’s ALRT system that sealed the fate of the proprietary railway as no one wanted it!

  3. In Metro Vancouver we do not hear of all the problems as most meetings at TransLink are closed to the public.
    There is no Auditor General at TransLink and the provincial Independent Transit Commissioner position was eleminated in 2014.. BC govt should buy out the 30 year Canada Line contract with SNC Lavalin. 3P does not work for transit system, UK has changed all of the privatization of transit.

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