Edmonton serves notice of default to Metro LRT signalling contractor

Thales has 5 business days to respond to notice of default
WATCH ABOVE: If Thales cannot fix the issues on the Metro Line on a new schedule, the city says it will look at alternatives to LRT operations.

The signalling contractor responsible for Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line has not met the April 30 deadline, city officials said Tuesday.

“Today, we provided Thales with a notice of default under the contract,” said Adam Laughlin, the deputy city manager of integrated infrastructure services.

“Council has given us clear direction that continuing to wait for Thales to deliver on contractual obligations is not acceptable,” he said. “This is a legal step toward an optimal resolution which could still be months away.”

READ MORE: April 30 deadline to fix Edmonton’s Metro LRT Line looms 

Under the contract, Thales will have an opportunity to respond to the notice of default within five business days.

Laughlin explained this does not yet mean termination of the contract but it eventually could.

Story continues below advertisement

“If that schedule is not met, the city will proceed with termination,” he said.

Watch: As the deadline to fix the signalling issues on the Metro Line comes and goes, Edmontonians are still waiting. The city filed a notice of default against the contractor Thales. Vinesh Pratap has more.

Metro LRT April 30 deadlines passes
Metro LRT April 30 deadlines passes

City council endorsed this course of action after receiving an in-private update. They also approved of administration investigating alternative operations on the Metro Line, should that become necessary.

“It is frustrating,” Laughlin said. “We, along with Edmontonians, are frustrated. Today is an important step but it is not the final step.”

Tweet This

The signalling contract is worth $55 million. The city has already paid $33 million and will withhold the remaining $22 million.

Laughlin said the city is committed to maintaining current LRT service in the meantime.

“We’ll have resolution within the year, with Thales or without.”

Tweet This

READ MORE: Edmonton continues to wait: Date to fix Metro Line LRT issues approaches 

Watch: City says notice of default is not immediate termination for Thales

City says notice of default is not termination for Thales
City says notice of default is not termination for Thales

Mayor Don Iveson said this latest step represents a line in the sand.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have a contractor that has consistently let down Edmontonians in meeting their contractual obligations to the city,” he said in a statement.

“They have failed to achieve the deadline we set and we cannot continue to wait for a solution that may not arrive. Enough is enough.”

Tweet This

Iveson said since this is a legal process, the city cannot divulge many details.

READ MORE: Survey finds Edmontonians’ transportation habits are not changing 

“My expectation of Thales is that they take this notice of default very seriously and do everything possible to avoid the next steps in our legal process.

“It is important to remember that thousands of people use the Metro Line every day and while we go through these next legal steps, we can assure the public that the line is safe and will continue to run while we work on fixing the signalling system.”

Watch: What does the city hope comes from this notice?

What does the city hope comes from this notice?
What does the city hope comes from this notice?

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

Thales issued a statement on the notice of default Tuesday afternoon.

Story continues below advertisement

“Thales is disappointed by the action taken today by the city.

Tweet This

“The activities of Thales and the city are mutually dependent, demanding timely coordination and decision-making. We remain committed to delivering the next steps of this project for the benefit of Edmontonians and will continue to work, as we always have, per our contractual obligations.”

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

The Metro LRT Line was supposed to open in April 2014. Four years later, it’s still not running at full speed or frequency.

Watch: Former Edmonton city councillor Kim Krushell sat on council when the Metro Line LRT deal was approved. Krushell says it’s easy to find blame with the City of Edmonton, but asks: What about signalling contractor Thales?

Former Edmonton councillor weighs in on Metro Line LRT signalling mess
Former Edmonton councillor weighs in on Metro Line LRT signalling mess

In December, city hall imposed an April 30 deadline for all issues to be dealt with; the decision came after a Nov. 11 incident in which two trains ended up on the same track near the NAIT station.

The $600-million line was delayed several times before it finally opened in September 2015, but even then, it wasn’t running the way it was designed to.

Story continues below advertisement

Since 2014, the opening date was pushed back several times because of issues with the Thales signalling system.

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

The Thales signal system on the Metro LRT is called Communications-Based Train Control or CBTC.

Late last year, city staff made a shocking admission: the technology is best suited for above- or below-ground mass transit. The majority of the Metro Line is at street level.