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Edmonton will spend months testing Metro LRT Line signal system; Thales says it’s ready

WATCH: Adam Laughlin, the deputy city manager with Integrated Infrastructure Services, provides an update on Edmonton's Metro Line signalling system.

Tuesday, Dec. 4 was the deadline for the contractor behind the Metro LRT signalling system, Thales, to complete its work and meet the contract requirements.

“It’s pencils down for Thales today,” said Adam Laughlin, deputy city manager with the city of Edmonton.

“They may be confident in their work but we have to do our own due diligence to determine if Thales has passed and has met their contractual obligations.

“It’s important to ensure that the city – and all Edmontonians – has the signalling system that we asked for and were promised,” Laughlin said.

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The city expects it will take “a number of months” to evaluate the signalling system, including a review of documentation and field testing.

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Watch: While the contractor responsible for the Metro LRT Line’s signalling system says it is ready to go, the city will take some time to test it before Edmonton officials agree. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Thales hands over Metro LRT signal system to city
Thales hands over Metro LRT signal system to city

Last week, representatives from Thales were in Edmonton reassuring council that the fully operational signal system would work as planned. The company said the system was ready after it was tested over the summer.

READ MORE: Thales says Metro LRT signalling system is ready to run

Thales vice-president Dave Beckley said he would like to see a gradual integration of the system into the Metro LRT Line, perhaps running it on the public transit route one day a week to start.

In a news release Tuesday, Thales declared the LRT system ready for service.

“Thales is confirming to the City of Edmonton today that the CBTC (Communications Based Train Control) system has no major deficiencies,” the contractor said.

“The CBTC system is ready to provide safe and reliable service across both the Metro and Capital lines.

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“Thales looks forward to a positive response from the city to move the system into service so that the intended capacity of the Capital and Metro lines can be realized, including providing riders with service frequency every five minutes on the Capital Line and every 10 minutes on the Metro Line,” Thales said Tuesday.

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Beckley added that a large portion of the LRT system has been in service for over three years.

“The CBTC trains are all ready to go. We’ve done some recent demonstrations, in August and November that give us a great deal of confidence the system is ready for operation.”

Watch: Dec. 4 is the deadline for the Metro LRT Line signal issues to be fixed. But as always, there is uncertainty and unanswered questions. Vinesh Pratap has more, as councillors were given an update at city hall. 

Edmonton LRT signal contractor says system along Metro Line will be running full speed by Dec. 4
Edmonton LRT signal contractor says system along Metro Line will be running full speed by Dec. 4

The city said most of the signal testing will be done outside service hours to reduce the impacts on Edmonton riders, drivers and pedestrians.

“The city anticipates there will be one-and-a-half days of system-wide LRT closures each month to accommodate testing.

“These closures will take place on low-service days. Special events will also be a key consideration,” the city said in a news release Tuesday.

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READ MORE: New Metro LRT plan includes Thales deadline, bridge over Yellowhead, proposed train to St. Albert

The problem-plagued Metro Line has experienced several issues since it opened to riders in September 2015, including crossing arms coming down on green lights and trains heading in opposite directions on the same set of tracks.

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Earlier this year, the city issued a notice of default to Thales.

A new timetable was established to fix the remaining issues with the system, and Dec. 4 was the date to hand the system over to the city to operate.

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