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ION trains delayed, now scheduled for Spring 2019

Bombardier now says the vehicles will not be ready until early February.
Bombardier now says the vehicles will not be ready until early February. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

Residents of Waterloo Region will have to wait a little longer for the long-awaited ION light-rail trains to start running.

Waterloo Regional Council received an update on Tuesday prepared by Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation and environmental services, which revealed the project will be delayed until Spring 2019.

“The vehicles are not yet ready for use in-service. As a result, start of service in December 2018 will not be possible. The current integrated schedule from Bombardier and GrandLinq projects start of service in spring 2019,” a spokesperson for the Region of Waterloo told Global News.

READ MORE:  ION trains still on schedule for December launch

Staff recently began to provide monthly updates, with the last update in September stating that the light-rail vehicles (LRVs) were still on track to start running in December.

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While the report notes that things are moving along since the last update, there have been delays in several areas which made it impossible to proceed in December.

These include minor issues with the vehicles Bombardier delivered as well as slower than expected installation of specialized equipment. These delays in turn also affect training of drivers and mechanics as well as system testing.

Tuesday’s report provided an update on the ION vehicles.

READ MORE: Two more light rail vehicles arrive in Kitchener

It says that only 11 of the 14 LRVs are currently in Waterloo Region, with the other three still being prepared by Bombardier in Kingston.

The report states: “Significantly, no vehicles are yet fully ready for service, in that they have not yet achieved Preliminary Acceptance Certificate (PAC).”

The PAC is a series of tests the LRV trains need to pass before they are ready for the next step. These include being fully assembled with modifications complete. They are still not roadworthy as they are then subjected to a second series of tests which will allow the vehicles to reach Final Acceptance Certificate status.

The first vehicle, which arrived in August, is close to achieving PAC-status, according to the report.

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It goes on to note that Bombardier now says the vehicles will not be ready until early February but they will still need testing time before they are street-ready.

“Assuming that the vehicles are ready in early February and that GrandLinq has completed all of the necessary system testing, training and safety certification on schedule, start of service would be in the spring of 2019,” it states.

A spokesperson for Bombardier took issue with the report, stating that it is not an accurate depiction of how events have unfolded.

“In June of 2018, Bombardier undertook an agreement with the Region of Waterloo for an additional scope to integrate the specialized equipment into the vehicle,” Jade St-Jean told Global News. “This agreement had specific milestones leading to the delivery of all 14 cars by the end of December 2018.”She said that the specialized equipment forced the company to rebuild the LRV trains.

“We put together a very aggressive schedule and deployed all the necessary resources to meet the milestones, including hiring more employees in Ontario and investing at our Kingston manufacturing site,” St-Jean explained.

She said all 14 vehicles will be delivered “by the end of 2018 as promised” and that the company “is on track to deliver to its commitment.”