• John Jantak

Pincourt resident frustrated by RTM commuter train delay


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Officials from the Réseau de Transport de Montréal (RTM) said an incident that caused a four-hour delay last week on the westbound line affecting Pincourt resident Jessie Walker-Dion (above) along with hundreds of other commuters was a ‘unique’ incident and are taking steps to ensure it won’t be repeated.

An unforeseen delay on the Réseau de Transport de Montréal (RTM) rail line between the Lucien L’Allier and Vaudreuil train stations exasperated commuters including Pincourt resident Jessie Walker-Dion who arrived home almost four hours after the incident occurred last Thursday evening, January 25.

Walker-Dion, a Vanier College student, boarded the 9:21 p.m. train at Vendôme station. About 10 minutes later, the train stalled between the Montreal West and Lachine stations.

‘Technical difficulties’

“The train left Vendôme and everything was normal. Then it stopped and an announcement was made (saying) there were technical difficulties. They said it would be a 15-minute wait because they had to find out what was going on,” Walker-Dion told The Journal.

“It didn’t seem like a big deal at this point because they have problems like this often and usually it doesn’t take too long for them to figure out what’s going on so I wasn’t too worried,” said Walker-Dion.

A second announcement was made about 15 minutes later advising commuters there would be an additional 20-minute wait, she said. “We waited and waited and then at about 10:20 they made a third announcement saying they had to call maintenance and it would take about 20 minutes for them to arrive,” said Walker-Dion.

No info about delay

The commuters became concerned by the extended delay because there was still no news about its cause. Even though there were security personnel on the train, they were unable to provide any information about the situation or whether buses would be made available to transport the stranded passengers, said Walker-Dion.

At 10:30, an announcement was made advising commuters that buses would be provided to bring the stranded commuters to their respective stations. “It usually takes one hour to get home on a normal day. It was only around midnight before passengers were allowed to leave the train,” said Walker-Dion.

Ordeal to disembark

It was also an ordeal to disembark the train, according to Walker-Dion. “Normally you get on and off the train through the regular doors and steps. There are other doors that are raised higher and there are no steps. We had to leave through these doors,” she said.

“We had to jump off the train and the security workers would catch us. Then we had to walk across the tracks. There were quite a few hills, branches and snow. It was really slippery but the security staff helped us navigate. It was about a five minute walk to the buses,” added Walker-Dion.

She boarded the bus to L’Île-Perrot at about 12:15 a.m. and arrived at the Terrasse-Vaudreuil station almost one hour later. Walker-Dion said the delay was exhausting and caused unnecessary stress because her classes that day began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 6 p.m. without a break.

‘A little bit disappointed’

“That was not the way I expected my day to end. I only got about three hours sleep because I had to go back to school on Friday so I had to catch the 5:52 a.m. train back to Vendôme. I understand these things happen and you can’t be mad at that. But I was a little bit disappointed with how they handled the situation,” said Walker-Dion.

She began taking the train almost a year ago thinking it would be faster. “I used to drive to Fairview and take the bus. I started taking the train because I thought it would be more reliable. The buses are late when there’s bad weather. I thought I would get to my classes on time with the train. I’m not so sure about that now,” said Walker-Dion.

Mechanical breakdown

The cause of the delay was due to a mechanical breakdown, said RTM spokesperson Caroline Julie Fortin. She said because the incident happened between stations, snow had to be shovelled to provide a safe passage for commuters. “This had to be done before anyone could leave the train. We had to make sure no one would be injured. This is why it took a little bit longer than we expected,” said Fortin.

The problem was also exacerbated because the incident happened at night which made it more difficult to provide buses and drivers. It has also prompted the RTM to make sure a similar situation is handled in a more timely manner, said Fortin.

‘Corrective measures’

“We’re working on a plan to take corrective measures to make it faster next time. We still always depend on our partners who have to find buses and drivers to transport passengers but we want to improve the response time,” said Fortin.

She emphasized this was a unique incident. “Things are going well on the Vaudreuil line,” Fortin said. “We’re working to make sure that any other situation is properly evaluated to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

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