Via Rail blames OC Transpo for pair of signal malfunctions

Via Rail is now blaming OC Transpo for tripping up the warning signals Friday at Fallowfield. Officials say OC Transpo is also responsible for tripping up the signal at an undisclosed crossing on April 25th.

They say the automatic warning devices at the crossings went into fail safe mode because OC Transpo buses failed to stop where they were supposed to when the lights were flashing.

Via alleges a bus stopped under the gate as it was being lowered at the Fallowfield crossing Monday night, damaging the gate and preventing it from returning upright.

"The OC Transpo bus stopped beyond the stop line and under the gate, as it was being lowered," said Via in a release. "The damage caused to the gate prevented it from remaining upright thus, triggering the fail-safe mode and extending the period during which it remained in effect with lights flashing and bells ringing." However, reports from the scene indicated the barrier had gone up, but the lights did not stop flashing.

Via interim CEO Steve Del Bosco is calling on Mayor Jim Watson and OC Transpo boss John Manconi to investigate the incidents and take "appropriate" measures to avoid this happening again.

Councillor Diane Deans, who chairs the city’s transit commission, told CFRA News late Tuesday afternoon that OC Transpo is looking into the issue and she’s “not interested in playing the blame game.”

“What I don’t want to do is get to a he said/she said or finger pointing one at the pother. That’s jut not helpful. What has to happen here is that the signals have to get fixed. Via needs to fix their signals, Via needs signals that work reliably 100% of the time.”

She added that when Via Rail officials provided a briefing last week, she expected better communication going forward, but this latest incident left city in the dark.

“Today I’m a little less hopeful that things have improved because you know, the press release says there were two incidents, one on Friday and one on April 28, and we only heard about it today through a press release.”

Deans said city manager Kent Kirkpatrick has already requested a meeting with Del Bosco to discuss the situation.

In a release Del Bosco says he remains interesting in installing cameras at the Barrhaven crossing to ensure quick response times should there be an issue.

"These cameras may also provide both the City of Ottawa and VIA Rail with better information of activities in the area," he says. Calls to Via have yet to be returned.

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