‘The nerve centre’: Issues with Eglinton Crosstown LRT software persist

Click to play video: 'Transportation Minister weighs in on LRT delays'
Transportation Minister weighs in on LRT delays
RELATED: Ontario's Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria said he is “not happy” with the ongoing Eglinton Crosstown LRT delays. Colin D'Mello has the story. – Dec 11, 2023

The long-awaited Eglinton Crosstown LRT continues without a completion date as the head of provincial transit agency Metrolinx warns the software “nerve centre” designed to run trains along the route is struggling with “defects.”

Speaking on Monday, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said the line was moving forward but warned that software needed to run trains along the route continued to be a problem.

The software is so problematic that, come June, it will already be on its seventh iteration, Verster said.

“All of the major construction is now complete,” Verster said, suggesting only minor tweaks like water leaks or broken tiles remain on the construction to-do list.

“What concerns me most, though, is the software defects in the signalling and train control system and the rectification of those defects by CTS and Alstom,” he said, referring to the contractors working on the line. “They’re making good progress with it, but it’s not as fast as we would like it to be.”

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Verster has previously worried out loud about “wrinkles” with the software that needed to be fixed, an issue he said continues.

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“From as late as last week, release six of the software started to be tested — it will fix some of the defects, but release seven is already planned for June,” Verster said.

“The signalling train control system is really the nerve centre of moving trains punctually and on time as well as safely. And so it’s really critical that that system works well.”

Other parts of the route are also outstanding. Verster said 36 of the 41 occupancy certificates needed for the route had been granted, although one for Eglinton Station at the heart of the route was still outstanding.

The news means the line is still some way from being completed. Once construction and certificates are complete, along with fully functional signalling software, drivers will still need to be trained on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

First, 20 trainers will be taught how to operate the line. They will then take that knowledge and train a further 90 TTC  operators in three groups how to operate the trains, Verster said.

That will be followed by a “bedding-in period” of roughly a month before passengers can actually ride the trains.

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The line has been without an opening date since Verster announced in 2023 that there was no credible timeline to open it. At the time, he said 260 issues were plaguing the project.

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