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O-Train - Service Interruptions


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20 hours ago, DavidBellerive said:

While many choose to blame the trains, and not the users, I think there is a shared blame.

Have to disagree with you there, David. As far as I've heard, the user behaviour that caused these hourlong outages was just people holding open the doors for a couple attempts to close. I'm not a train expert, but speaking from a general engineering perspective, this should be well-tolerated and certainly not cause such a prolonged outage, so the great majority of the blame has to go to the design and build of the trains. People hold the doors open on other subway systems too, and how often do they have hourlong delays? Definitely, user education can help but you will still get some people who act like this.

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(I posted this once my my cell, but it didn't seem to go through) Yep.  I took the pic at 13:25. Trains were held for about 10 min. Guy jumped the turnstile as I was entering from the Rideau

Previously when a train was disabled due to a door that couldn’t be closed and disabled , the CBTC control system needed to be bypassed which resulted in massive delays while the train was returned to

Spotted a real wacko today.... He seems to be in Jedi mode also. Called  911, he was arrested.   VID_20190925_132829_01_01.mp4

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John Manconi released a memo regarding the delays experienced today on Line 1 as well as steps being taken moving forward. You can find it here: https://www.otrainfans.ca/news/memo-o-train-line-1-update-october-9-2019

Here are the points concerning what will be done moving forward:

We are taking immediate action to resolve issues, minimize delays and communicate with our customers. 

We are clarifying processes with our staff and eliminating attempts to repair doors on site. Operators and technicians are being instructed to immediately put trains back in service as soon as an affected door is closed and locked. If that is not possible, passengers will be cleared from the affected train and the train should immediately be removed from service. While this will temporarily inconvenience passengers on the affected train, it will clear the tracks quickly and significantly minimize delays throughout the system. 

Furthermore, to assist our customers and reduce future incidences of door faulting we are: 

• Adjusting dwell times (the amount of time a door is kept open) at stations aligning the timing to passenger volume and train frequency times; 

• Asking Alstom to review all door issues to assess root causes and identify any issues or measures that can minimise door issues;

• Asking Alstom to review all door settings to assess if sensitivity settings are consistent across the fleet; 

• Deploying customer representatives to platforms to remind customers:

  1. to stand clear of doorways for loading and unloading
  2. not to run for trains; and
  3. not to hold doors; 

• Increasing customer service messaging using all channels to remind our customers of boarding and disembarking tips and suggestions; 

• Making station announcements asking customers not to run for trains, to stand clear of doors and not to hold doors service; and 

• Installing markings on platforms guiding customers on where to align at the doors to assist with loading and unloading of passengers.


Ken Woods has also tweeted on the subject and explains how the doors operate. You can find the tweets below, copy and pasted for archival purposes.


Ken Woods



About train doors... I have spent quite a bit of time driving trains and troubleshooting all kinds of things with the Citadis Spirit. There's plenty of conjecture about the tech floating around that really should be cleared up.

First off, the doors indeed have sensors. Look down, you will see a beam-break sensor that prevents the door from closing if you're standing in the door. You will hear the door chime, then a buzz indicating that the door is obstructed. After 3 attempts the door goes into fault.

So what happens in fault mode? Your operator checks CCTV, and if no obstruction is seen, then he/she can manually cycle the doors with a button on the dash. If the obstruction is no longer there, then the doors close and we all get moving... fault cleared.

The second way a door gets obstructed is an object physically preventing the door from closing. Could be a foot stopping it, a bag, or a hand. The result is the same. The door makes a buzz, and opens again just like an elevator. Then it tries to close again. If it closes, we move

In those two instances, should the door not be able to close, your operator can physically close the door on site, and lock the door out with a mechanical lock. We call this Isolating the door. The train recognizes the door as isolated, and we are on our way.

The third reason a door is obstructed is misalignment. This is generally what happens when a person grabs the edge of the door and forcefully opens it against the force of the closing motor. It takes some effort to do this, and it is often catastrophic.

Misalignment means the door sensors report that the door has been taken forcefully out of its mechanical track, and it cannot be manually closed or locked until it has been reset onto its track or recalibrated by a technician.

In many instances, the operator cannot close, manually lock, or isolate a misaligned door. The door will not accept the isolate command because the door cannot be closed in such a way that the physical lock engages.

It takes about 5-7 mins to get from a few attempts to isolate to the realization that the door is actually misaligned and cannot be isolated. The misaligned door is now stopping the train from moving until it is either fixed, or the train is evacuated and the doors bypassed.

Bypassing the doors sounds easy, but it is not. Moving a train with an open door means actually bypassing the communications system of the train (CBTC), making it invisible to the signaling system and other trains.

We recognize that trains are packed right now. It only gets worse with delays, and people on trains cannot always get off in the 24 seconds that is allotted at some stations.

We need to change dwell times when it is busy, and we need to get our trains running on better headways to decrease crowding. These changes are on us, and we are going to fix that.

But, if you take anything away from this as a commuter, let it be this: Break the beam, not the door. Stopping a door with a hand is a risk, pulling a door open against the motor can be catastrophic, requiring single tracking around a stopped train and big delays.

We all want the same thing, Ottawa. A painless, efficient commute. Thanks for reading.

If you'd like more info on door bypassing, here is the process. CBTC is the system that allows trains to talk to each other, the track, the switches, and the control center. It is the computerized way that trains use signaling and get authority to move.

CBTC safety systems are designed for efficiency and automation, allowing trains to have really close headways at high speeds.

CBTC also enforces train suitability, meaning the CBTC system will not allow a train to move with a safety issue like an open door. So, bypassing that safeguard requires us to bypass CBTC, making the train itself invisible to the other trains being controlled by CBTC.

Once bypassed, we have to move that invisible train back to the depot, and prevent other trains from getting too close. A bypassed train can only move at 25kph, and for obvious reasons cannot stop at stations.

So we move the train using written track authorities, and get the train to depot while the normally higher speed system follows behind.

This process takes time, added to the delay time of the door problem itself. (Getting people off the train, troubleshooting, etc). We will get faster at this part of the problem. But nobody, and I mean nobody, wants the practice.

So that's the short version of it, anyway. Thanks for reading.


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As a lurker from the early days of this site, let me first say thanks to Shane and the rest of the loyal O-Train fans who are making this site and forum such a success. I'm the kind of person who purposely checks out the metro or commuter rail system in every city I visit, and have had the (mis)fortune of travelling on systems around the world.

The points about customer behaviour are legitimate and consistent with my experience at Tunney's Pasture each morning this week (so far).  But customer behaviour doesn't explain why our brand new shiny Confederation Line feels as busy at peak periods as Toronto's subway system - which hasn't seen meaningful expansion since the 1980s.

John Manconi got a lot of questions at the technical briefing ahead of the launch when the number of trains on line at peak periods was lower than anticipated.  It makes me wonder whether they are intentionally running the minimum number of trains that can handle the passenger volumes, rather than overprogramming to improve the customer experience. 

I give OC Transpo a lot of credit for the work that has gone into the planning for intermodal connections, but handling the passenger volumes from the suburban feeder lines appears to be an almost unsurmountable challenge.  It will be interesting to watch the next two weeks as Ottawans really break in the system.

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Thank you for joining us Kanatafan.

I believe that the measures they have announced today will definitely help the situation.

The markings on the platforms to align passengers with the doors, as well as promote the appropriate behavior of allowing passengers to disembark before boarding.

I am happy to see that they are going to review the door open timing. Whether they lengthen them or have them close only manually by operator initiation by the operator (such is the case in Montreal's Metro), will definitely help prevent people getting in between the doors, or atleast lower the occurrence rate.

Let's face it, there are times that the station dwell time will be longer due to passenger load and the programmed 15-20 seconds won't cut it, and 30 seconds would be needed. Having the flexibility to adjust and operate based on the passenger flow would be ideal. This is probably only an issue at the terminus stations, which already have long boarding times, and the busy downtown stations, so we are likely talking an increase in trip length of 2 minutes give or take. It would make for a more relaxed boarding phase at stations than the seemingly described frenzy that people are experiencing. The reports of people having the doors close before being able to get off, is either a case of the person not being ready soon enough for their stop, or that there truly is too many getting off that there is insufficient time.

Let's see how these new measures help. I'm very hopeful this will get things in the right direction.

Of course, seeing why the doors are so easily jammed as well is an important follow-up as well with Alstom.

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Previously when a train was disabled due to a door that couldn’t be closed and disabled , the CBTC control system needed to be bypassed which resulted in massive delays while the train was returned to Belfast Yard. 

Ken Woods today tweeted that this is no longer the case and when there is a door issue the CBTC doesn’t need to be cut out. Hopefully this will result in significantly reduced duration of delays and whatnot. Great news in any case. 


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R1 service - O-Train Line 1 (Final update)

Routes: 1 O-Train

Date effective: October 22, 2019

Final update: 11:12 - O-Train Line 1 has resumed its regular schedule between Tunney's Pasture and Blair stations. R1 service has concluded. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.

Update #11: 10:52 - O-Train service is resuming between Blair and St-Laurent. Trains have now begun to provide service at Blair, Cyrville and St-Laurent. R1 service will conclude shortly.

Update #10: 10:47 am - We apologize for continued inconvenience to customers travelling between St-Laurent and Blair. Work continues to resolve the problem. Updates to follow.

Update #9: 10:30 am -  R1 Bus service continues between Blair and St-Laurent with service for Cyrville Station at Cyrville and Cummings. Line 1 running fully between Tunney's and St-Laurent. Thank you for your patience.

Update #8:  10:15 am  We apologize for continued inconvenience to customers travelling between St-Laurent and Blair.  Work continues to resolve the problem.  Updates to follow.

Update #7:  10:00am  R1 Bus Service continues to replace O-Train Line 1 between Blair & St-Laurent.  We are working on restoring full service as soon as possible.  

Update #6:  9:45am Line 1 service continues between Tunney's and St-Laurent with R1 bus service from St-Laurent to Blair. Technicians continue to work on resolving the problem.

Update #5:  9:31am.  R1 buses continue for customers travelling between Blair & St-Laurent.  R1 will continue until O-Train Line 1 service restored between Blair & St-Laurent.

Update #4:  9:20am  Technicians are working on communication issue with the track switch.  Bus only service between St-Laurent & Blair.  Full O-Train Line 1 service continues between Tunney's & St-Laurent.

Update #3:  9:11am.  We apologize for the ongoing service disruption. Technicians are working to restore service as soon as possible.  

Update #2:  9:05 am.  Trains are running between Tunney's and St-Laurent.  Customers travelling between St-Laurent to Blair will use R1 bus service.

Update #1: 8:55 am. R1 Bus Service will be running between Blair and St-Laurent Stations. Updates to follow.

Delay 8:51 am: There is currently a delay to O-Train Line 1. Customers between Blair and St-Laurent will be affected.


R1 Service routing:


Based on the track configuration, it would seem like there was a problem with the one or two switches entering Blair Station.

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Is anyone else starting to feel embarrassed about our train launch?   I do give them a lot of leeway for sure as it is a brand new system...but seriously, I thought they were supposed to do 12 days of no fault testing?  There is lots of faults! Many of the interruptions were not just people holding doors (like today's switch issue).  How come the trains only seem to fail during weekday rush?

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A train was reported immobilized at uOttawa station this morning. No mention of the cause yet as far as I know. 

As Herlsone mentioned above, how come the delays always take place during the morning rush hour? (Today it was around 9:30, a little after rush hour but still counts?) There's only been one or two total afternoon rush hour delays, but other than those nearly all of them have been between 7 and 10 AM. 

Also, Ken Woods just posted an explanation about the single-track system, which happens when a train is immobilized on one of the tracks. He also posted a detailed explanation about the switch incident yesterday at Blair. I'm not sure how to include a tweet here, but you can find those on Twitter @drivesincircles

Edited by Dr. Human
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I was out riding the train during my lunch hour and observed a service delay.

It happened today at approximately 1:35pm. I was at Rideau Station, and the westbound train was HELD. Announcements in the train were indicating a stopped train ahead and that there would be a delay. An in station announcement was made stating that all westbound trains would continue to Tunney's Pasture. The train's operator also made an announcement saying a train with a door issue at the next station (Parliament) was holding the train but it should be fixed in 5 minutes. He also said a westbound train was going to pass through on the eastbound platform, which it did. Both the train and station announcements continued repeating every half minute or so.

About a minute or so after that train left, the original westbound train departed and all returned to normal.

There was a quick swarm of red-vests that descended to platform level to advise to use the other platform temporarily. Overall things were handled quite quickly and the delay on the original train was probably 5-8 minutes at most from what I could tell. By the time I got to Parliament Station, the "stuck" train was already gone.

While issues and delays are not good, it is clear that improvements on response and performance are being made, and the turn around on this event was quite quick.

At the time I am writing this, there didn't seem to be any tweets or notices sent by OC Transpo, however I did receive an email at 1:59 stating an update at 13:49pm, saying there was a stopped train at uOttawa and the situation was resolved, with full service resumed. My train's operator said an issue at the next station (with us heading westbound, it would indicate Parliament), so I am not sure if there was a separate issue at about the same time or not.

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The mayor met with key staff as well as RTG and RTM today to discuss and find solutions to the current situation resulting poor bus and LRT service. While the big update is still scheduled for next Wednesday at the Transit Commission meeting, there were a few points to come out today that would start coming into effect as of next week. You can read the entire statement here: https://www.otrainfans.ca/news/statement-from-mayor-watson-and-transit-commission-chair-allan-hubley-regarding-recent-lrt-issues

Here are the main action points that are listed (there may be others but this is what we know for sure at the moment):

OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi and his team are taking the following actions, which will be implemented starting next week:

  • Of the fleet of buses that had recently been taken out of service, 40 are still MTO certified and will be brought back into service starting next week.
  • Working hand in hand with ATU 279 president Clint Crabtree, Mr. Manconi has found a solution to extend the current service booking past December 31st, which will free up the bus drivers needed to operate these additional buses.
  • These additional buses will be deployed on routes that have faced chronic issues since the October 6 service change, such as the 39 in the east, the 257 in the west and the 75 in the south.
  • On January 1st, 2020, an additional 19 buses will join the fleet and further improve service for our customers.
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I found this to be the most telling comment from yesterday's press conference:   

“The platforms are designed to hold 600 people at a time so if you miss even one four-minute train cycle, you have another 600 people arriving. That’s when you see the pictures of crowds backing up the steps,” Watson said.


If the challenge is that the volume of transfer passengers at peak times is so close to station capacity, that's going to be a conundrum.  Interested to see what mitigation strategies they will put in place.

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On 2019-11-02 at 8:51 AM, kanatafan said:

I found this to be the most telling comment from yesterday's press conference:   

“The platforms are designed to hold 600 people at a time so if you miss even one four-minute train cycle, you have another 600 people arriving. That’s when you see the pictures of crowds backing up the steps,” Watson said.

And what if a train shows up that is full? Or half full? Or whatever...? I have ridden plenty of train systems that you had to wait until the next train...and brand new ones (Dubai) but never a train system with such small platforms.  When you have a chance to build from scratch, why not just over do it?  "Ok studies say we need 12 feet to make room for 600 people...". ... "Ok..let's do 30 feet."

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