July 11, 2018 2:13 pm
Updated: July 11, 2018 8:27 pm

New money for Metro LRT approved as part of Edmonton budget talks

WATCH ABOVE: New funding for Edmonton's Metro LRT Line was approved at city hall on Wednesday. As Quinn Ohler explains, while it's not clear how large the funding increase is or what it's for, none of it will go to the signalling contractor.

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Edmonton city councillors approved a budget adjustment for the Metro LRT Line during a private meeting Wednesday morning.

However, the mayor wanted to make it clear the budget increase was not for Thales, the LRT signalling contractor.

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

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“This is not money for the contractor, to be crystal clear,” Don Iveson said. “This is money related to getting to the finish line on the project and putting alternatives in place.

“This is not money for the vendor that is subject to the notice of default.”

The undisclosed amount is to give the infrastructure branch some money to work with to create a Plan B for the signalling system in case Edmonton formally walks away from Thales. The deputy city manager said Thales has agreed to a new testing schedule.

“There was a bit of back and forth,” Adam Laughlin said. “Part of the notice of default was for them to submit a schedule. Lots of back and forth and ultimately where we landed was contract completion by the end of the year.”

At least 12 weeks of on-road testing of the signal system would take place after that, in early 2019.

“But we have to see how Thales performs over the year to determine exactly how much and what kind of testing we would need to do,” Laughlin said.

He said the city cannot share too many details to protect its position in the legal process.

“Just know that we’re vigorously defending — as the mayor said — Edmontonians’ interest in this process. We want to ensure best value for this project and how we can recover on that.”

READ MORE: Edmonton serves notice of default to Metro LRT signalling contractor

On May 1, city officials confirmed Thales had not met the April 30 deadline to fix the issues troubling the LRT line. The city served Thales with a notice of default under the contract.

Thales presented the city with a new plan and timetable for fixing the line and signalling system.

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 has been plagued with issues since it opened at a reduced speed and frequency back in September 2015. Over the past several months, opposing trains have ended up on the same track and crossing arms have come down on green lights.

The line was supposed to open in April 2014. More than four years later, it’s still not running at full speed or frequency.

— With files from Scott Johnston

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