June 3, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Montreal Metro | Twenty Azure trains stopped for “premature wear”.

Montreal Metro |  Twenty Azure trains stopped for "premature wear".

20 of Société de Transport de Montréal’s (STM) 71 Azure trains are currently grounded due to “premature wear” of wheel bearings. Press. This forced pause will not affect service for the time being, but the carrier cannot guarantee that it will not be affected in the long term.

“If we ever experience an impact on service, we have already prepared mitigation plans. That said, we have room for maneuver right now. We have not only kept MR-73 trains [les anciens modèles] More, but the ridership is also at around 70% even though we are serving the same volume. However, I cannot tell you that zero risk does not exist,” the company’s general manager Marie-Claude Leonard admitted in an interview. Press.

His team says it noticed an “anomaly” in 2019 in the rolling stock of trains — the equivalent of what is often called Bearing For cars – i.e. the part which fixes the wheel to the vehicle and allows it to turn. Essentially, a structural flaw allows electrical current to flow through the bearings, creating arcs that subsequently destroy them.

At that time, STM engineers first found a “temporary solution” to prevent premature wear of components by removing the ground braids that protect the electrical cables.

In late 2022, a “permanent” and more durable solution was finally implemented to correct the problem. It installs a set of conductive crowns in each of the hubs – the center part of the train wheel – that redirects the electric current elsewhere than in the rolling stock, for example towards the rail which restores the current through the following. The device was installed by French multinational Alstom.

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They all have to go

As per our information, all Azure trains are affected by this “anomaly” in rolling stock. So they will eventually have to go through this upgrade, starting with the twenty or so trains that have just been taken out of service. “Depending on the protocol, we withdraw trains and keep others in operation. We are always on twenty trains,” says Mme Leonardo.

“Currently, we are taking a few more trains rather than putting them back into operation”, but DG admitted to “double the rate” to replace the hubs in the coming weeks to avoid any cuts. services.

Currently, we are at a replacement rate of 30 hubs per week. There are about 72 people in a train. We want to reach 60 per week.

Marie-Claude Leonard, STM Director General

As of now, the STM is yet to determine how much it will cost to upgrade the hubs under its Azure trains. Everything is “under analysis”. The company has 71 of these trains, mostly in service on the Orange and Green Lines, as well as 40 MR-63 trains mostly on the Blue and Yellow Lines.

Service and supply challenges

To date, Marie-Claude Leonard assured that the situation “has not had any impact on the service” provided on the metro. “We follow this issue every day, we are very strict. If there are any impacts on the service, we will inform our users at least two weeks in advance,” she stressed.

While she is optimistic in the short term, the general manager admits nothing is guaranteed. “I can never tell you,” she admits, about a drop in service if mechanical problems persist.

Photo by Édouard Plante-Fréchette, La Presse Archives

Azure train on the Orange Line

The other issue is supply chains, many of which have been severely disrupted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per our information, some spare parts are not yet available for the trains.

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“The necessary documents, we have, assured Marie-Claude Leonard. At the same time, everyone is aware of the global supply problem. The good news is that we have received a good number of parts, which tells us that we can double the replacement rate,” she reiterates.

Not the first

This is not the first time Azure trains have faced mechanical problems. In early 2017, the STM was forced to withdraw several trains from its network, including shoes, under-body equipment used to ensure power supply, damaged eight sets of Azure cars and one train of MR-73 cars.

At the time, the major incident caused a 10-hour complete disruption of services on part of Metro’s Orange Line, frustrating customers and elected municipal officials. Signaling equipment at Du College station in particular was damaged by faulty shoes.