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Montreal Metro | Twenty Azur trains halted due to ‘premature wear’

Twenty of the 71 Azur trains of the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) are currently parked due to “premature wear” of their wheel bearings. Journalism. This forced downtime does not affect the service at this time, but the carrier cannot guarantee that they will not feel any impact in the long term.

“We already have mitigation plans in place if we have any impact on service. However, we currently have some wiggle room. We didn’t just keep the MR-73 trains.” [les anciens modèles] More, but the passenger rate also stays at around 70% even though we offer the same service volume. However, I cannot tell you that there are no risks, ”admits the general director of the company, Marie-Claude Leonard, in an interview with Journalism.

His group says that in 2019 it noticed an “anomaly” in rolling stock – often the equivalent of what is called to bear Automotive – that is, the part that secures the wheel to the vehicle and allows it to rotate. Essentially, a construction fault allows electric current to pass through the bearings, thus creating arcs that destroy them.

At that time, STM engineers first found a “temporary solution” by removing the ground braids protecting the electrical cables, in order to avoid premature wear of parts.

In the fall of 2022, a more permanent “permanent” solution was finally implemented to correct the problem. This involves installing on each axle – the central part of the train’s wheel – a set of conductive crowns which redirect the electric current to any other location than on the rotating equipment, for example towards the rail which recovers the current through the following. It is the French multinational company Alstom that created this device.

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They will all have to go

According to our information, all Azur trains are affected by this train “anomaly”. So they will eventually have to go through this upgrade, starting with the twenty or so trains that have just been decommissioned. “Depending on the protocol, we will pull the trains and run the other trains. M. saysI Leonardo.

“Right now we’re taking a few more trains than we’re running back,” admits the managing director, who wants to “double” the rate of replacement of axles in the coming weeks, to avoid any cuts to services.

Currently, we’re working on a replacement rate of 30 cores per week. There are about 72 people on a train. We want to get to 60 weeks.

Marie-Claude Leonard, General Manager of STM

At the moment, STM has not yet been able to say how much it will cost to upgrade the hubs under the Azur trains. Everything will be “under analysis”. The company owns 71 of these trains, most of which are in service on the Orange and Green Lines, as well as 40 MR-63 trains, which are mostly seen on the Blue and Yellow Lines.

Service and supply challenges

Marie-Claude Leonard stresses that the situation has not yet caused “any impact on the service” provided in the metro. “We are following this issue on a daily basis, we are very strict. If there are any implications for the service, we will inform our customers at least two weeks in advance,” she insists.

Saying she was optimistic in the short term, the general manager nevertheless admitted that nothing was guaranteed. “I could never tell,” she agrees, if mechanical issues persist, that there may be a decline in services.


Azure train on the orange line

The other problem is supply chains, most of which have been severely disrupted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to our information, some spare parts for trains are not available yet.

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“We have the required documents, confirms Marie-Claude Leonard. At the same time, everyone is aware of the global supply issue. The good news is that we have obtained a good number of parts, which tells us that we should be able to double the replacement rate,” she confirms.

Not the first

This is not the first time that mechanical problems have been spotted on Azur trains. At the beginning of 2017, STM had to withdraw several trains from its network after pieces of the underbody equipment used to ensure the power supply were damaged in eight sets of Azur cars and one train of MR-73 cars.

At the time, this major event caused a complete 10-hour outage of service on a section of the metro’s Orange Line, frustrating users and elected municipal officials. The damage had been caused in particular by faulty boots in the signaling equipment at Du Collège Station.