An Edmonton city councillor wants an investigation to determine whether the beleaguered Metro Line LRT poses a risk to public safety after a pair of incidents near the NAIT Station on Saturday, including one that saw two trains running on the same track.
“If it’s safe, then why are we having all these problems?” said Coun. Mike Nickel on Sunday.
“Are we at this point where this line is so dysfunctional, do we have to shut it down?”
The incidents on the weekend are the third and fourth mishaps this year to result from software system failures. On Oct. 30, the crossing arm lifted prematurely at a busy intersection near NAIT. CBC News has also confirmed an issue in July.
Nickel said he will make an inquiry at the city council meeting Tuesday calling for an investigation, and will also ask the city manager and city auditor get involved.
“Obviously, I have some very grave safety concerns now surrounding the entire Metro Line,” he said.
2 trains, 1 track
Eddie Robar, the city’s transit service branch manager, confirmed that just before 6:30 a.m. Saturday, a train departed Kingsway Station, northbound for NAIT Station, and was on the same track as a train that was ready to go southbound.
“Any time we give a line assignment where a train is routed on to a track that’s occupied, that shouldn’t happen in the system itself,” Robar said. “Having to… back a train into a station is not something that’s ideal.”
While the city worked with the software provider, Thales, to figure out what went wrong with the track switcher, it caused another software system malfunction, Robar said, noting there was a service delay of six to seven minutes.
‘If we can’t get to a resolution at some point, there’s always different alternatives we can take.’ – Eddie Robar, the city’s transit service branch manager
An investigation is underway, he added.
The city is withholding a $17-million final payment to Thales until the company can resolve the software issues.
“If we can’t get to a resolution at some point, there’s always different alternatives we can take,” Robar said. “To say that we’d do that right now, I’m not sure that’s the case.”
The $700-million Metro Line LRT opened in September 2015, more than a year behind schedule. It was supposed to open in spring 2014 but there were problems integrating the new and old signaling systems.
Robar said neither of the two incidents that occurred on Saturday posed a risk to public safety. He noted that when a train comes too close to another train or a gate, the system puts on the brakes.
“In both cases, none of that was breached,” Robar said.