City sets new target to have Metro LRT Line running at full frequency ‘by the end of 2017’

Edmonton's Metro Line LRT on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Metro LRT trains will not be running at full frequency by the time students head back to school in September.

The city’s new target is to have all deficiencies on the Metro Line addressed by the end of 2017. Originally, the city had a more vague goal of “2017, without a specific date” to have trains on the Metro Line running at full frequency, with the new software installed.

The updated timeline was provided to city council through a memo in May, which was subsequently posted online in mid-July.

“Thales continues to work on deficiency clean up and software completion for Automatic Train Operations with a target completion by the end of 2017,” the memo read in part.

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The Metro Line was originally supposed to open in April 2014. The opening was delayed until September 2015, but trains were running at a reduced speed.

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In February 2017, the trains sped up to full speed, but issues integrating the two separate LRT lines meant frequency on the Capital Line from Clareview to Century Park was reduced. Both lines share the same section of track through downtown Edmonton and on to the university.

READ MORE: Metro Line LRT running at full speed: ‘so far so good’

The latest news in the Metro Line saga has Coun. Tony Caternia suggesting that enough is enough with the under-performing line.

He said he wants to see the Capital Line return to its regular schedule.

“We should make sure the Capital Line is operating at its full capacity and if that has some effects on the Metro Line, then I’m OK with that,” he said.

“How often can you take the answer of, ‘temporary’ at face value? We see the issues. We know now that it’s going to be another delay with the end of 2017 as the proposal. If we go by past history on the announcement for the Metro Line, that’s probably not correct. Our administration hasn’t come to us on target with any of the dates that they have proposed.”

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillor calls Metro LRT delay an embarrassment

Caterina said the Capital Line could and should be running at its full capacity.

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“If that has consequences with the Metro Line and its issues, that can be worked out in the time frame that’s needed. But to have two lines that are now affected is actually much worse than what we originally had been told.”

Commuters are also feeling the burden.

“I’m always wondering when it’s going to be done,” said Melissa Zwaan, who takes the train a couple of times a week.

While she admits “it’s a good system for the most part,” Zwaan can’t help but wonder why it’s taken more than three years to get things up and running properly.

“I’ve heard that other places have gone up and they’ve been running within probably less than a year and here it’s taking a really long time and I’m not sure why. I’ve noticed that a lot here with certain things taking a while.”

BY THE NUMBERS: Seven-year saga of Edmonton’s much-delayed Metro Line LRT

Martin Narsing is a council candidate in Ward 4, where the Capital Line comes to an end. Narsing worries the inefficiencies will deter people from using the service altogether.

“We’ve built LRTs in Calgary, we’ve built metro systems in Montreal and Toronto, the Crail in Vancouver, and we’re having an issue where we can’t even connect a three-kilometre line to NAIT,” he said. “The thing is, that people now have to take an extra hour to get to work and put that into their timetable. That’s not really a fair thing and that’s not an efficient way to run this LRT.

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READ MORE: Battle shaping up over LRT priorities on Edmonton city council

“I think something was pushed ahead before it should have been brought online. If it was properly planned and engineered, we would have seen these things come to fruition and come online and in budget.”

The Metro Line came with a $665-million price tag.

With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED. 

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