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'Fix it already': Edmonton mayor warns Metro Line company


Edmonton city council is demanding the company behind the Metro Line LRT’s signalling system fix the problems by the spring, or face consequences.

Council voted unanimously at a meeting Tuesday to give Thales a deadline of April 30, 2018 to bring the line to up to full functionality, known as “Plan A” in the city’s contract.

The trains have sometimes been running at reduced speeds and reduced frequency since the line went into operation in September 2015.

“Fix it already,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “This is the last chance to deliver, otherwise there will be serious consequences.” 

Mayor Don Iveson said council and the public have run out of patience with the problems on the Metro Line. (CBC)

The line was scheduled to start running in December 2013, but problems with the signalling system delayed the opening date until September 2015.

Edmonton has been withholding a payment of $17 million to the company since then.

Reports released Friday show 50 incidents of signalling failures since the line opened. Six of those were serious and 44 were considered “fail-safe” mishaps where there was no risk to the public.

Eight of those mishaps, however, involved two trains ending up on the same track heading towards each other at the NAIT station.

City prepared to end Thales contract

Council didn’t say exactly what “consequences” there may be for Thales, but Iveson hinted at a termination of contract. 

“If we have to disentangle ourselves from this signal system … we’re prepared to do that?” he asked staff.

Adam Laughlin, the city’s manager of integrated infrastructure services, replied, “Yes.”

Laughlin said he believes a stronger message from city council will help push Thales to rectify the problems. 

City council is also asking Thales to come up with a backup plan that provides an alternative to the signalling system.

In a statement sent to CBC News Tuesday, a spokesperson for Thales said the company is committed to delivering a safe and reliable CBTC [communication-based train control] system.

“We will continue to work with city officials and the Edmonton Transit Service to deliver the remaining CBTC functionality,” said Dave Beckley, vice president of customer service and commercial operations.

Several councillors on Tuesday continued to ask for assurances that the line was safe, even though City Manager Linda Cochrane said Friday she didn’t think the safety of the Metro Line should be questioned any further.

The city continues to point to the train’s safety redundancies — from train conductors to the control centre — to assure the public the system won’t allow trains to crash.

City council wants Thales to report back on the status of the system by May 2018.

@natashariebe





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