December 6, 2017 12:03 am
Updated: December 6, 2017 1:17 pm

Signalling contractor has until April 30 to fix Metro Line mess: Edmonton City Council

WATCH ABOVE: The line in the sand has been drawn in the beleaguered Metro Line LRT controversy. After several incidents on the line, council has given the signal contractor a deadline to get the signal issues fixed. Vinesh Pratap has the details.

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Edmonton city councillors passed a motion on Tuesday calling for Thales, the contractor behind the signalling system for the problem-plagued Metro LRT Line, to fix any outstanding bugs and glitches.

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“We’ve asked in the motion for a Plan C… to say, you know, ‘What other signal systems could be put in place if the contractor cannot deliver by April 30?'” Mayor Don Iveson said after the vote. “‘What sort of other options do we need to protect for keeping the trains moving no matter what?'”

A recent report detailed issues experienced by the Metro Line over the past two years, including 49 instances of signalling problems. In November alone, the problematic line saw two trains, going in opposite directions, end up on the same track and a crossing arm inexplicably go up as a train was coming. There were no injuries reported as a result of any of the instances.

READ MORE: Metro Line sees 49 safety-related incidents in 2 years of operating: report

Tuesday’s lengthy discussion about the LRT line amongst city councillors began in private before moving to public debate. One of the issues brought up was how the Metro Line’s signalling system is so unique and how that relates to the fact it is a ground-level line. Councillor Tony Caterina asked a city administrator how the ground-level nature of the line related to what the city ordered from Thales.

“How was this system chosen given that there is no other system like this anywhere?” Caterina asked, “when we knew at the time that it was meant for elevated or underground systems?”

“Council’s direction has been urban LRT which is at-grade… those sorts of things,” said Adam Laughlin, the city’s deputy manager for integrated infrastructure services. “So I won’t comment on if we should be building a tunnel or above ground, but the technology is certainly proven in those types of situations where there’s an elevated train or subway.”

Thales issued the following statement to Global News on Wednesday morning.

“Thales is committed to delivering a safe and reliable CBTC System to Edmonton. We will continue to work with City officials and the Edmonton Transit Services to deliver the remaining CBTC functionality.”

The Metro Line ran into issues before even opening. Trains were initially supposed to start running along the track in April 2014 but that was delayed until September 2015.

Iveson indicated if Thales doesn’t have all the signalling kinks ironed out by the April 30 deadline, there could be legal consequences.

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

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ recent coverage of problems with Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line.

Speaking to reporters late Tuesday, Laughlin was asked about how signalling would be handled in the event Thales is no longer involved.

“We’d have to just check,” he said. “Certainly the software system, we’re not able to use that for the proprietary reasons and we would just have to confirm if any of the hardware systems could be reutilized, we don’t know that at this time.”

“This multinational company that does this for a living, told us that they’d be able to deliver a finished product several years ago,” Iveson said. “we worked with them to come up with an interim solution, we’ve been operating safely with that interim solution – we’ve called it Plan B for some time now – but we’ve got to get this project finished.

“We can’t have another missed deadline on this.”

-With files from Vinesh Pratap

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

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