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Too Late for NAIT

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson speaks at a news conference Wednesday as the city announced a timeline for completion of the Metro LRT Line to NAIT.

The City of Edmonton announced yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 21, that the long delayed Metro LRT Line that will service NAIT is not scheduled to open until early May, too late for U-Pass students to use it this spring.

A timeline shows that a six-week evaluation and training period is scheduled to begin on March 23, meaning that the line wouldn’t be operational until May 4.

“Based on the most recent testing schedule provided by Thales Rail Signalling Solutions Inc., the City of Edmonton is cautiously optimistic the Metro Line LRT will open to public service in spring 2015,” the city said in a news release.

The line was originally scheduled to open in spring 2014, but “the complexity of the interface between the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling system and Edmonton’s existing LRT system requirements delayed completion of the project,” the news release said.

Transportation Services General Manager Dorian Wandzura said, “Thales has made some progress over the last few
months but they still have several project milestones to achieve before they can turn the system over to the City for evaluation and ETS operator training.”

The City says the CBTC system allows LRT trains to detect how close they are to each other, with oversight by a centralized master control. This allows trains to safely reduce spacing between them, and provide more frequent service. In contrast, the traditional fixed-block system of existing Edmonton’s LRT system requires LRT trains to maintain greater distance between them, which means less frequent service.

Integrating the CBTC with the fixed block system is taking longer than anticipated.

“Thales appreciates the patience of everyone in Edmonton as we work to complete the signalling system for the Metro Line,” said Thales Vice-President Mario Peloquin.

The City says the line is expected to add 13,200 weekday riders to Edmonton’s LRT network and link major destinations such as NAIT, the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Mac-Ewan University to the rest of the network.

Critics of the project are angry about the setbacks, but in a previous interview with the Nugget, city spokesman
Graeme McElheran was quick to clarify that this will not be a recurring problem moving forward.

“This is not something that we’ll have to do again in the future. The work will already be done,” he said.

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