Winter tests on LRT vehicles carried out indoors

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The tests done to assess whether the city’s light rail system could withstand a winter in Ottawa were mainly done through laboratory simulations and did not involve driving the vehicles outside, says the city.

Winter weather tests, administered in early 2017 in the National Research Council’s “climatic chamber”, simulated cold, wind, rain, snow and ice conditions and temperatures ranging from –38 C to 38 C, the city said in a summary of the test results published on Wednesday’s city council agenda.

The objective was to determine whether Alstom Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles could continue to roll and keep cyclists comfortable in a climate with extreme weather and temperature variations.

City officials said the vehicles passed most of the tests.

“Citadis Spirit LRV climate tests have generally shown that vehicles can withstand the harshest weather conditions in Ottawa and provide safe and comfortable driving for customers,” said the summary.

“Since the majority of the climate tests passed without problems and a solid justification explains each of the differences, the overall test of climatic comfort and climatic conditions was considered successful. “

The test method raises the question of whether the simulation was rigorous enough, since the Confederation Line experienced a litany of problems during its first winter in service.

From switch failures to sensors tricked by blowing snow into power losses, city transportation officials have blamed the weather for many issues that resulted in delays and the replacement of buses.

Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the corporate partnership that built the system, would not consent to the release of the full results of the 39 tests. Councilors will be able to see the results at the city clerk’s office.

The vehicles failed four tests, mainly due to water leakage issues, but the city says Alstom later resolved these issues.

The only test performed outside was a series of additional tests carried out in the Belfast garden of OC Transpo, which involved defrosting the front windshield and certain temperature tests.

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