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Edmonton’s Metro Line LRT given go-ahead to run at full speed, with exception

Click to play video 'Metro Line LRT safety audit still finds safety issues' Metro Line LRT safety audit still finds safety issues
WATCH ABOVE: It will soon be full speed ahead for Edmonton's Metro Line but as Vinesh Pratap explains, it won't be full speed all the time – May 24, 2016

It’s full speed ahead for the Metro Line LRT, sort of. After eight months of running at a reduced speed, city administration gave the go-ahead Tuesday for trains to operate at full speed, but it comes with one pretty major exception.

Trains on the Metro Line will not be allowed to travel at full speed at grade road crossings, according to recommendations of a rail safety audit done on the line. Details of the safety audit of the signalling system were revealed at a city council meeting Tuesday afternoon.

This means the trains will have to slow down at each of the five intersections the line crosses.

“I have to say this is frustrating. I was hoping for a little better news today,” Ward 2 Councillor Bev Esslinger said.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t let idiots build your transit’: Reporter rips into Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line

There was clear frustration from several city councillors after hearing the latest development in the Metro Line saga. Ward 7 Councillor Tony Caterina wondered if full speed was even achievable on the 3.3-kilometre line if the trains would have to slow down at five intersections.

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“You know, I don’t think the train is really going to move that much faster,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “It’s just that it’s able to move faster in a few spots, so that might shave a minute off the trip time.”

However, city administration said they believed this was progress.

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

It’s hoped the line will be running at full speed at all times by August 2016, in time for school and the opening of Rogers Place.

The city hopes to get to “Plan A” and have the system run as designed at a higher frequency by the first quarter of 2017, nearly three years after the line was originally scheduled to open.

As work continues with signal contractor Thales, some additional reliability issues remain with the Metro Line, including long waits for LRT signals and message boards not working properly.

READ MORE: Report finds delays at Metro LRT crossings not quite as bad as anticipated

Trains on the Metro Line have been travelling at a reduced speed of 25 kilometres an hour since it opened for service in September 2015.

Due to ongoing troubles with the signalling system, trains run every 15 minutes between the Churchill and NAIT stations.

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In March 2016 it was estimated about 10,000 people ride the line each day, with peak periods between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.