November 13, 2017 7:41 pm
Updated: November 14, 2017 2:00 pm

Edmonton city councillor calls for probe of Metro Line LRT after latest glitches: ‘I’m starting to get concerned’

WATCH ABOVE: Councillor Mike Nickel wants answers after an Edmonton LRT train ended up on the wrong track over the weekend. He’s calling for an investigation. Vinesh Pratap has the details.

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After an LRT train on Edmonton’s problem-plagued Metro Line ended up on the wrong track this weekend, Councillor Mike Nickel said Monday he is looking for an investigation into the safety of the line. He also wants clarity on who’s assessing its safety level and how.

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“Given this last batch of incidents, one has to ask the question,” Nickel told Global News. “I want to know who made the decision to determine the line is safe, what metrics they used to say it is safe (and) who’s accountable for those decisions because now, we’re seemingly always falling to our secondary backup systems for safety and our primary systems seem to be failing – which is the driver, the driver’s the backup system.”

A southbound train entered the northbound track where a train was parked at the NAIT LRT station on Saturday morning. Edmonton Transit Service’s (ETS) branch manager said the train’s operator noticed what happened and stopped the train. One train then backed up until it hit a switch point to get back on the other track.

Eddie Robar said the problem was caused by an unknown software malfunction but has maintained the system is safe and that backup safety measures worked as they should. However, Nickel said he would like to know more about how the safety determination is made.

READ MORE: New measure put in place after 2 track signal failures at NAIT LRT station: ‘Let’s just get it fixed’

“We’ve had several incidents now that suggest safety might be an issue because certain parts of the system are failing. We’ve had to go to a driver-based observation system as a secondary backup. ‘So, wait a minute – what happened to our primary?’ I have a lot of questions,” Nickel said.

Since officially opening a little over two years ago following delays, the Metro Line has been saddled with problems related to its signalling system. Most recently, the trains on the line have been subjected to speed restrictions when a crossing arm inexplicably rose when it shouldn’t have late last month.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line under speed restriction after crossing arm inexplicably lifted

Watch below: (From Nov. 3, 2017) Edmonton’s Metro Line LRT is moving slowly once again. The line is under a speed restriction after the crossing arms lifted as the train approached a crossing earlier this week.

Nickel said he doesn’t have concerns about the Capital Line or the future Valley Line, arguing the system the Metro Line uses was engineered differently. However, he said with the Valley Line construction now well underway, it’s an ideal time to look further into the Metro Line’s problems.

“We’ve never really had the discussion of what has been the acceptable level of risk running this line,” Nickel said. “When you’re talking about risk assessment, it becomes a numbers game because we’re talking hundreds of thousands of trips with millions of passengers.

“So, what is the level of risk that we’ve assumed? Because at the end of the day, council has to hold administration accountable for the safety of that line.”

Thales, the contractor behind the Metro Line’s signalling system, said passenger safety was never compromised and it is taking the issue seriously and plans to address it.

“The reliability of our system for the residents of Edmonton is our top priority,” Thales said in a statement on Monday. “We continue to work in close partnership with the City of Edmonton in resolving this issue.”

ETS said its investigation into the cause of the most recent signalling issues is ongoing.

-With files from Julia Wong

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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