Testing for Ottawa’s light rail system failed to duplicate real-life scenarios

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The contractor of Ottawa’s Confederation Line will be able to tend to problems sooner than expected.
City of Ottawa

You just can’t duplicate a winter in Ottawa, Canada. Rideau Transit Group made an attempt during a series of indoor tests that were supposed to simulate extreme temperatures and conditions for the new light rail system that has come under intense scrutiny. However, you can’t beat the real thing.

Since the system opened to the public, power losses, frozen switches and sensors identifying snow drifts as fixed obstacles are just a few of the issues that have dogged the light rail train.

Testing was carried out in a lab called the climatic testing research facility between Jan. 10 and Feb. 27, 2017. Certain hardware was checked to see if they could handle cold and hot temperatures, high humidity, wind, snow accumulation and freezing rain. The train failed just four out of 39 separate tests, and the problems involved minor water leakage.

Rideau Transit Group has not made any of the test results public, but city officials claim the tests went well. Councillors can view the test results with the city clerk, but copies have not been made available. City officials did provide a summary of the testing, but the summary does not indicate if actual driving was involved during the testing. There also is no mention of what would be the effects of salt and dirt. Salt and dirt have been behind electrical arcing issues.

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