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City considering second option to open Metro LRT Line

WATCH ABOVE: We still do not know when the Metro LRT Line will be up and running. Michel Boyer is joined by the GM of Transportation Services with the reason.

EDMONTON – The City of Edmonton is exploring an alternative interim option for the Metro LRT Line’s signalling system.

The city’s transportation G.M. said the decision was made after a meeting with Thales, the signalling contractor.

“Although Thales has provided a safety certificate, we need documentation on testing and processes that would verify the Metro Line as ready for public service,” explained Dorian Wandzura.

“Unfortunately, Thales was not able to produce the documentation that would satisfy safety certification requirements, which means we are unable to put the Metro Line into service at this time,” he said.

Wandzura added the city is also working on a Plan B to get the LRT line up and running.

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“This interim option would provide and a basic level of service until the Thales system is ready for use,”

“Although it’s not preferable and not a long-term solution, this action will permit the city to move towards opening the line which has always been our goal.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Transit’s Metro Line to NAIT still not open

Details about the second option weren’t provided and the city still doesn’t have a timeline for the opening of the Metro LRT Line.

Thales, however, said all relevant documents have been available to the city for sometime.

“Thales has delivered all the necessary documentation, or made the relevant documentation accessible to the City of Edmonton and its consultant for many months,” Julie Rolland told Global News in a statement.

“The city’s consultant was at Thales’ facilities in Toronto during the week of July 19, 2015 and has in fact been closely involved in the project since the beginning.‎

“On July 24, 2015, Thales received in-person feedback from the city’s consultant at the end of its visit.

“At this time, no comment was made regarding missing essential documentation.

“No formal or written feedback regarding the city consultant’s visit has been received by Thales so far,” Rolland added.

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She said the city’s move to consider another option comes as a shock.

“The decision of the city to engage another, new party, to perform an independent review comes as a surprise to Thales.”

Wandzura emphasized the move doesn’t mean the city is terminating its contract with Thales.

“We fully expect them to deliver the product they agreed to deliver.”

The city will also engage in an independent rail safety audit, which has been an option available under the contract with Thales.

“Rail Safety Consulting, a North American leader in auditing signalling systems, will work with Thales to identify gaps and close those gaps that will lead to fulfillment of those contracts,” said Wandzura.

In July, suggestions were made of significant construction problems. A report obtained by the Edmonton Journal listed 12 problems facing the LRT line. The issues include water pooling on the tracks, loose guard rails, and communications systems blocked or filled with water and debris.

However, Wandzura insists the nearly year-and-a-half delay of the line is a result of issues with the signalling system not the other issues.

READ MORE: Councillor calls Metro LRT delay ‘boondoggle’ after leaked report

There is no indication of the cost of the delay or the possible secondary option.

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The project takes the LRT line from Churchill Station to NAIT.

A city audit expected in August will review both the signalling system and management for the entire $665-million project.

RAW VIDEO: The city’s Transportation Services GM Dorian Wandzura reveals why the Metro LRT Line cannot be put into service right now.