Polar Vortex -34, Edmonton track crew 1

Here are the cold, hard(working) facts about the dedication of a City of Edmonton track repair crew called into action during the extreme cold weather this week. 

Fact #1: A piece of steel LRT rail near Southgate cracked in the bitterly cold temperatures. 

Fact #2: How bitterly? It was -34C, windchill at -42C, on the night of the fix, February 9.  

Fact #3: That’s not easy (or always pretty) work!

“For the crews that keep the City going, their jobs are not weather-dependent,” said Trevor Dennehy, General Supervisor of Transit Facilities Maintenance. 

“Working straight from 7 p.m. to midnight in this extreme cold is challenging, but our crew rose to the challenge and got the work done safely,” he said. “Talk about snot running down your face! That’s part of the gig.”

City track crew repairs the rail on February 9, 2021.

Fix is in 

The cracked rail was discovered on the night of February 8, and the track shut down. LRT service continued, with trains northbound and southbound alternating on the remaining track. City crews were posted outside to manually operate switches during the day near Southgate. 

Then a 10-member track crew got to the scene, at 51 Avenue, on Tuesday evening. 

They came armed with specialized equipment. And layers of clothing. Long underwear, socks, more socks, pants, more pants, long-sleeved shirts, hoodies, coveralls, hats, other hats, neck-warmers, small gloves, medium gloves, big gloves. 

Steel rails and metal tools conduct cold, and quickly pull warmth from hands and feet. 

Crews also came with face masks against COVID-19. 

“I’m very proud of our crew for getting this work done safely,” Dennehy said. “It’s a monumental task.”

This is the crack they took aim at: 

Cracked rail at 51 Avenue


Crews bolted reinforcement bars to the rail on either side of the crack to secure it. Then, they used a cable to bond the rail back together so that the signalling system works. 

It was a solid, temporary fix. A permanent repair will be made in the summer when it’s warmer. 

Regular LRT service was restored for the following morning. 

“We thank LRT passengers for their patience, especially at Southgate and Century Park where there were temporary service delays,” said Dennehy. 

Didn’t this happen last year?

Transforming Edmonton readers may remember similar work being done in similar temperatures last year. In January, 2020, City track crews fixed two cracked rails on the south end of the LRT system, including one in the same intersection.

But this year’s work was on a different rail. Last year’s fix worked. 

Track crew fixes a crack on a different rail near 51 Avenue in January 2020.

Thanks for reading, thanks for riding, thanks for working together to stay warm and keep going.