A new city hall report details the problems the Metro Line LRT has had in the two years it’s been operating. There have been 49 instances where signalling problems have cropped up. The vast majority include signal lights and crossing arms not doing what they’re supposed to do.
“I wouldn’t categorize those as safety incidents,” the deputy city manager for infrastructure Adam Laughlin told a news conference Friday as the report was released.
“Those are events, that we experienced and for a large portion of those — 44 of them — the system went into a mode which we call fail-safe, where it goes into a safe response to an incident.”
He pointed to layers of safety built into the system, with several pairs of eyes watching what’s going on at all times.
“It includes the on-board train operators. It includes the control room staff that are monitoring the performance of the train on the track,” he said. “Because of the redundancy in safety in terms of the operators being on board, the system is still safe.”
Six other events happened that are categorized as “wrong-side failures.” Three happened during business hours, the most recent was reported to city council last month.
Three others were during the middle of the night during test periods where staff deliberately made the error, to see how the system would react.
“You’re actually trying to test the system to see if there will be a disruption in the signalling system,” Laughlin told reporters. “Trying to break to the system in those testing hours.”
It’s the details council will receive in another report next Tuesday that worries Councillor Mike Nickel. That one will be in private with city lawyers. He told reporters it may be time to walk away from the Thales troubles.
Nickel said council will have to decide “whether we can or can not or if it’s wise,” to stick it out and wait for the all-clear.
“If past performance is any indicator of future performance, I think you have to ask the question, ‘Will the system ever work?'”
Nickel said a very expensive option would be to begin what he called “over-under” discussions, meaning tunnelling under the roadway to access Blatchford, but more likely build ramps to accomplish the same thing.
“Get it right off the road or we have to go back and hope that Thales actually delivers on what they promise.”
City council asked for this report after the Nov. 11 incident that saw two trains on the same track in the early morning hours of operation.
Trains aren’t at full speed after that incident. Trains on the Capital Line run every five minutes, until a specific 10-minute gap is created so a Metro Line train can safely fill that five-minute sequence at Churchill Station where the two lines merge.