Edmonton LRT snarled by damage
EDMONTON The trouble with the trains came from above.
Damage to about 40 per cent of the city ’s LRT cars was discovered during a routine overnight inspection that led ETS to suspend service on the Metro Line Wednesday morning, and also created delays on the Capital Line.
ETS branch manager Eddie Robar later said it was determined that the pantographs on top of 40 of the city’s 100-car fleet had been damaged. A pantograph is the instrument on top of the trains that delivers the electrical current from the overhead wires to the train, he said.
The overhead wire setup is called the catenary, and, about a week ago, an arm in the catenary near 92 Street was discovered to be out of place. The issue was fixed then, Robar said, but for reasons that remain under investigation, the catenary arm dropped again and damaged a slew of pantographs.
In some cases, the pantographs bent, which could create a point of contact that could rip down the catenary, Robar said.
“The reason why we take the vehicles off-line is because we don’t want to have a catastrophic failure of the catenary system itself,” he said.
Speaking at city hall Wednesday, Mayor Don Iveson said he’s concerned about the extent of the damage to the cars and the service disruption, but he’s glad that the inspection process caught the problem before things got worse, and that the relief bus service was able to help manage the morning commute traffic.
“Until we understand why this happened, there’s not much point in speculating, and I’m confident our colleagues in transit are just working to restore the service and investigate what happened, and get everything back running,” he said.
By Wednesday afternoon, ETS said service was back on both LRT lines, but that fewer cars were running on Capital Line. The transit provider said southbound replacement bus service would be available from the U of A to Century Park during the afternoon rush hour.
Replacement and repair of the bent pieces of the pantographs is underway and Robar said the culprit arm has already been fixed. He said about four or five pantographs can be fixed per hour. Two dozen had been repaired by 3 p.m. and were being put back into service.
“We know we can fix the damage to the vehicles, and we can fix it quickly,” said Robar.
The hope is to have full service back by Thursday, said Robar.
In August 2016, pantograph woes snarled commuter traffic two days in a row, but Robar said he’s never seen damage to this many trains at once.