City council sinks more money into Edmonton's Metro Line and possible new signalling system

Edmonton city council has doled out more funding into the Metro Line but won't say how much chronic problems with that leg of the LRT system will cost taxpayers.

'As time piles up, there are additional costs,' Mayor Don Iveson says

The Metro Line opened more than a year late and has had several major problems since 2015. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC )

Edmonton city council has doled out more funding into the Metro Line but won't say how much chronic problems with that leg of the LRT system will cost taxpayers. 

After weeks of private discussions about the city's contract with Thales, the company behind the controversial signalling system, council emerged with the spending news Wednesday.

Mayor Don Iveson said paying consultants was one cost the city has had to incur.

"As time piles up, there are additional costs — a lot of staff time on the city side to try to manage the contract, manage the process."

Council also approved a budget for what it called Plan B, some kind of alternative signalling system if Thales doesn't fix the problems.

Adam Laughlin, manager of the city's infrastructure department, said the city is making progress on developing that Plan B.

"It's compressed schedule, obviously to get that in place," he told media after the council meeting. "We've taken some steps to start some action."

The city is still working with Thales and has "accepted" the company's latest schedule to finish the project.

The costs must stay private for now, city officials said, due to legal implications.

"This is not money for the contractor," Iveson said. "This is money related to getting to the finish line on the project and putting alternatives in place."

Earlier this year, the city gave Thales notice of default on its contract if it can't resolve the problems.

"Part of the notice of default was for them to submit a schedule, lots of back and forth," Laughlin said.

He said Thales has committed to completing the contract by the end of the year.

"We're feeling confident that regardless of which way this goes, we'll have resolution early in 2019," Laughlin said. 

The city will test the line after Thales has fulfilled its contract. Laughlin said it will take up to 12 weeks of testing after the end of the year, depending on how Thales performs.

The $600-million Metro Line has been plagued by problems since it opened more than a year late in 2015. An audit that year revealed the contract with Thales was poorly managed, and that updates and delays weren't communicated properly to city council.