N(o)-Train — why?

The popular and over-crowded O-Train service became the N(o)-Train — again — on Friday.

I’m beginning to think of this train service more in terms of “I wonder if it is running today” rather than than just suffering the occasional disappointment when it doesn’t.

I can’t imagine life for those who want to use it every day, and depended on its presence when they made their choice of where to live or where to work and how to commute. I’m sure the unreliable service contributes to OC Transpo’s increased ridership numbers.

It must be even more frustrating — when it is running — to just miss the train and have to wait 15 minutes for the next, knowing that out on Walkley road six more trainsets have set unused and unloved for more than a year, their service guarantees wasting away without revenue service, all through an election during which the mainstream media managed to avert their eyes from this as-yet-uncosted fiscal imprudence.

One of the arguments in favour of drivers-on-a-train is that they watch the right of way for any hazards. So I wonder how many drivers reported the slo-mo flooding of the OTrain track that caused Friday’s ignominious end of the Talent train service?

Here’s a pic I snapped from the Young Street ped bridge on 18 Feb — TEN DAYS AGO — showing the slow engulfing of the track in the rising glacier caused by melt water running into the OTrain corridor.



Melt water running through pipes that the City replaced with new pipes just last year. Transpo staff acknowledge that they have known for decades that there is a flooding issue. But nothing was done, neither by the transit folks nor by the engineers who replaced those pipes as is, which is sort of par for my expectations with this city that firmly believes that “out of sight” means “out of mind”.

On Thursday, in preparation for the meetings that evening on replacing the Qway bridge shown in this pic, I walked the site again, and noticed the glacier was now engulfing the rails themselves. The entire gravel roadbed was encased in ice or saturated in melt water.

Apparently the rising tide was missed by OC Transpo staff even though they are there every 7.5 minutes all day.

But its all OK, the politicians will be out in force in a little bit with a presser on how wonderful the new trainsets are and the increased level of service being offered.

I wonder if we are doing better on the Confederation Line?


6 thoughts on “N(o)-Train — why?

  1. Eric,

    In fact I have learned through other sources that various parties were made aware of this issue but did nothing much about it. From what I gather it’s from a sewer of some sort (storm or sanitary, I don’t know), and it’s been a problem since the beginning of the O-Train (and quite likely before that when it was CP’s). It’s not the train drivers going by 8 times an hour who were the weak link in this particular chain.

    1. Yes, it has long been a feature of the Otrain cut, since the cut was made back in the very early 1960’s. And its an ongoing feature ornamenting the city’s infrastructure today — the city after all replaced those sewer pipes that dump into the Otrain cut just last year. So its not like they had been forgotten about.

  2. I thought the train worked well under water… it passes through Dow’s Lake on each trip. 😉

  3. Amen brother. The lack of competence in handling the O-train was one thing when it was the unloved pilot project that OCTranspo only begrudingly seemed to take responsibility for. Now that it’s a pillar of the rail transit network the city wants to build out, I wonder if OCTranspo will start acting like they care. Early results are depressingly familiar.

    Your comment about “wondering if it’s running today” is totally accurate, and it’s why I never make weekend plans that depend on the O-train.

    1. In fact in the early years the level of competence with the O-Train was quite high. A fair number of devoted rail-types were involved with it back then but who have since moved on*. And that was all done on a tight budget to boot.

      Back in 2003 for instance when the track was upgraded to welded rail, the entire works were completed in just 3 weeks. But now, for something that is far simpler – adding in passing sidings – it takes months and months with multiple shutdowns.

      It’s truly sad how unreliable it has become, because until about ~5yrs ago it was easily the most reliable thing OC Transpo operated. It’s as if instead of raising the rest of OC Transpo’s operations to that of the O-Train, the O-Train was dragged down to that of the rest.

      *Some were not terribly well treated in the ensuing years as the City pursued its misguided O-Train replacement project (the N-S LRT) rather than extending the project with more trains as originally anticipated by heading north and south, east and west.

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