Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Pop-up Post: Here come the . . . new O-Trains?

This year, I have been pacing this blog so that a post is shared every other week, but the problem with that pace is that it doesn't leave much room for me to share items that a newsworthy. So I am speeding up the pace of the blog a little bit for the time being, as there is a lot to share and the backlog of posts is getting to the point where some information is becoming outdated by the time some things are ready for publication.

This post is a short one, but it does come with an interesting story. Long story short, my two children were down with the flu last week and our supply of childen's medication was quite low. As we needed to get them through about 5-7 days of fever maintenance, I made the decision to go down to Ogdensburg, New York to get some children's medication there. Alas, there was very little available, since many Canadians near the border are doing the same thing as me. I did manage to get some, but it was a tough pill to swallow, as the border is about an hour's drive from Ottawa. Hardly worth the gas, although a full tank only cost $30 in the U.S. Glass half full.

As I was driving south on Highway 416, I noticed a large flatbed truck making its way north toward Ottawa with a large plastic-wrapped railcar in tow. As I was driving in the opposite direction, I could only steel a quick glance and file the information away.

As I approached the bridge over the St. Lawrence River at Prescott, I noticed another flatbed truck with a similar railcar in tow, which was wrapped in plastic. As my car was stopped and it was safe to take a photo, I managed to get a quick shot of the mysterious rail cargo.

I was a little confused at first, since the trucks on this piece of rail equipment struck me as something that you'd see in a heavy rail vehicle, and not the typical trucks of a light rail car or power unit. So, to find something by way of comparison, I took a look at a shot I took from the end of Albion Road of a new O-Train sitting in Walkley Yard this past August. It's a Citadis Spirit trainset, which will be the train in use when the second phase of the O-Train Confederation Line is ready for use, supposedly next year between Corkstown Road in the west end and Trim Road in the east. The shot below doesn't show you the trucks, so I couldn't use that as a comparison but I thought the curvature of the end of the unit was similar to what I saw in the plastic-wrapped car. The reason I'm doubtful though, is that the O-Train below has a distinct hump on the end of the roof and the car under wraps does not. 

Also, as the O-Trains are designed to be accessible with seamless walk-on, walk-off capabilities, I'm not sure this piece of equipment fits the bill, although I realize that the platforms would rise above these trucks.

Since some have mentioned that Ottawa has had most of its light rail equipment delivered by truck, I figured it could be a piece of light rail equipment other than an end unit. But I'm not sure. Possibly a new piece of diesel equipment for the Trillium Line expansion? A piece of unrelated equipment destined for testing at the NRC facility near the airport? Can anyone else shed light on this mystery?

In this press release from Alstom, the company that makes the O-Train, it mentions that the trains are being "assembled" in Belfast Yard, where the current O-Train fleet is maintained. So, this further clouds the issue. In what state do the O-Trains arrive in Ottawa? Is this piece of rail equipment something else that is perhaps bound for the NRC facility for testing?

Can you help solve this mystery? There were two of these heading to Ottawa on December 13.


Croftbp said...

Definitely not an Alstom Citadis (Confederation Line LRT)...and I don't think it is a Stadler FLIRT (Trillium Line) either...the bogies on those are in the articulated joints. I think this may be a Montreal REM car, but why it is headed to Ottawa I don't know - climate testing at the NRC, though I would have thought that would have already been done. I found a photo here of one on a truck...looks like a pretty good match. https://themetrorailguy.com/2020/11/17/indian-built-alstom-train-unveiled-for-montreal-rem-metro/

Michael said...

That's probably the key point. The trucks are not positioned to fit in articulated joints. That, to me, suggests this is something that is not O-Train related. That was my initial thought, but then the question is, what is it? I would think it would be bound for the NRC. Thanks for your comment.

DaveM said...

If I was to guess, I think it is a car for NRC testing.

There have been deliveries in the past up the 416 to Ottawa of cars. Last one I heard of trucked in was a Malaysian Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit car. This car looks to long to be another one of them.


Michael said...

Thanks, Dave. Another interesting thought. There are many opinions on what this is on the Eastern Ontario Rails Facebook group as well. Some say it's Montreal equipment. Some suggest its Amtrak Siemens equipment. Nothing seems to fit though! Each theory has its holes.