The Valley Line LRT’s expansion into southeast Edmonton is taking another step forward this week.
The Valley Line Southeast has moved into the testing and commissioning phase, which will see the line go through a series of tests in the Strathearn area to ensure safety systems are working properly.
This will be the first time residents will be able to see the Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) in their neighbourhood and witness how the low-floor train system works. Two LRVs will be part of the testing; they will be staged at the Strathearn LRT stop along 95 Avenue between 87 and 89 streets.
TransEd, the public-private partner building the 13-kilometre line from Mill Woods to downtown, said testing will take place on the rail line from the Strathearn stop, along Connors Road and to the Muttart stop.
This section of the Valley Line has the steepest track, down Connor’s Hill, so testing will be done on the brakes, as well as emergency recovery testing.
“To ensure that our vehicles are able to recover a fellow vehicle if it happens to be disabled and unable to power itself up the hill,” TransEd communications manager Dallas Lindskoog said.
Testing will take place intermittently over the next two weeks, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to TransEd.
“Residents will be able to view the contemporary look of these trains and witness how the low-floor system moves and integrates with the environment. It’s an important step forward in the project’s progress and we hope the community is excited for the Valley Line and the quality service and added value it will provide to all residents,” Lindskoog said.
“We’re building an urban public transportation option that will be integrated into the communities it will serve to make it easier for people to use sustainable options like riding transit, biking and walking in their daily lives.”
During a demonstration for the media Tuesday morning, the train seats had sandbags on them, to simulate the weight of passengers on a fully loaded train.
“To do that testing requires some real-world scenarios and real-world scenarios mean what it’s like to have passengers on the train. So we’ve loaded up this train beside us here today with sandbags to represent the equivalent weight of a loaded train we’ll see during high-volume passenger service such as after an Oilers game or after an Edmonton Elks game or perhaps during the Edmonton Folk Music Festival,” Lindskoog said.
“Our train drivers will have the opportunity in the next few weeks to operate this train in a loaded condition. That will provide them the ability to feel what that train feels like when it’s loaded.”
Up until now, the majority of the testing along the Valley Line has been done farther south, in Mill Woods. This is the first time testing has been done north of the operations and maintenance facility located at 75 Street and 51 Avenue.
The Valley Line Southeast is different from the current high-floor LRT system that Edmonton operates. The line features new, low-floor, urban-styled trains that will provide more pedestrian-friendly access with at-street level stops. In residential and commercial areas, embedded tracks will be integrated to the established design and traffic flow of the area, according to TransEd.
While an exact date has yet to be set, TransEd said the line is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
“That is a lofty goal,” Lindskoog said. “We have a lot of work to do this season before the ground freezes.”
He said work to finish sidewalks, paving and trail connections will be done all along the 13-kilometre route. Finishing touches are also being done to the stations.
“Other crews along the alignment are working on the systems and communications installations. A lot of the wires are still being pulled,” he said.
Lindskoog also stressed that the overhead wires are being energized, so people should assume that all wires are live.