February 13, 2019 1:41 pm

Last week’s Metro LRT Line signalling issue ‘extremely rare’: Thales

Feb. 8, 2019: A network issue with the Thales LRT signalling system forced replacement bus service to take over Friday morning. As Julia Wong reports, it highlights the unreliability of the system.

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The company that designed the signalling system for the Metro Line LRT says the outage experienced last Friday was an “extremely rare network broadcast storm,” a statement from Thales Canada said on Wednesday.

On Feb. 8, Metro Line LRT trains stopped at around 8:30 a.m. and passengers had to be offloaded at stations.

READ MORE: Edmonton acknowledges ‘unreliability’ of signalling system after issues disrupt Metro Line LRT

A city spokesperson said at the time that the issue was caused by a network problem where trains couldn’t communicate or understand their positioning.

Craig McKeown, director of engineering and maintanence with Edmonton Transit, said there was no direct safety risk. However, there was behaviour like gate arms moving sporadically up and down, he said. McKeown said the problems were fixed after a network switch was turned off. It wasn’t a weather-related issue, McKeown said.

WATCH BELOW: A network issue with the Thales LRT signalling system forced replacement bus service to take over Friday morning. As Julia Wong reports, it highlights the unreliability of the system.

In a statement sent Wednesday, Thales said members of its Edmonton-based team were on site immediately to work with the city to restore service.

Trains began running again at around noon.

READ MORE: Central Edmonton residents express anger over proposed LRT-related road closure

Thales pointed to the malfunction of a piece of third-party equipment that is part of the system.

“This type of disruption is unacceptable to Thales and we are working diligently with ETS to determine the root cause of this occurrence,” Cara Salci with Thales said in the statement.


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

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

READ MORE: Councillor wants Edmonton LRT stations open 24 hours during extreme cold

A new timetable was established to fix the remaining issues with the system, and Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, was the date to hand the system over to the city to operate.

Thales said the system is ready after it was tested last summer. The city is now conducting its own testing. That testing started Dec. 4 and will continue through the first quarter of 2019. There is no set date for when testing will be done.

In its statement, Thales said Wednesday: “the reliability of the Metro Line has been exceptional over the past 14 months, exceeding Thales’ contract obligations of 99.9 per cent, measuring delays of greater than five minutes.”

– With files from Karen Bartko and Emily Mertz, Global News

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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