LRT’s winter testing was done indoors, not on the tracks
Cold-weather testing on the LRT system did high-tech lab work, but never actually drove the trains in an Ottawa winter.
Indoor lab tests by the National Research Council featured cold, wind, snow and ice that tested the Citadis Spirit’s ability to keep running.
But when they began real service, the trains ran into unforeseen factors — power losses, frozen switches and more — that caused breakdowns and a winter of discontent for passengers.
Rideau Transit Group has refused a councillor’s request to make public the details of its cold-weather testing.
The city clerk’s office will let individual councillors view the test results, but not have copies, so the public will never see either the results or even the testing methods.
City officials say the tests went well and issued a brief summary. But this summary indicates there was no actual driving involved.
And the summary makes no mention of testing for the effects of salt and dirt — factors that crippled LRT fleet by causing electrical arcing.
There is also no mention of testing the track switches, which sometimes froze.
On March 9, after a series of train breakdowns, Coun. Keith Egli from Knoxdale-Merivale wrote a request to city staff to show him the testing methods and results. He questioned how the NRC’s testing could have given such a rosy picture when the LRT system had trouble with winter.
The city sent Egli this answer:
“The specific test procedure and test reports contain proprietary information and RTG has not consented to their release. The City has prepared the following summary which provides a high-level overview of the testing results. Councillors may arrange for viewing of the original documents with the City Clerk.”