Metro LRT Line will finally open Sept. 6
The $700-million line to NAIT is now more than 15 months behind schedule
The Metro LRT line to NAIT will finally open for service on Sept. 6.
City transportation manager Dorian Wandzura announced the trains will operate at 25 km/hr to allow operators to use a "line of sight" style of operation
Wandzura said lower speeds will allow LRT operators to stop the train "in half of their field of distance."
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The trip from NAIT to Churchill Station will take 14 minutes, instead of seven. Wandzura said the trip will be two minutes faster than the existing express bus. Trains will run at 50 km/hr once the system is fully operational.
Wandzura said guard rails will go down at crossings.
"The line is safe," he said. Operators will start their training on Monday.
Wandzura wasn't able to say when the system would be at full capacity. The city will have to add an extra train to the line which will increase costs. Every third train coming from Century Park station will be diverted to NAIT. This will mean a 17 per cent loss of capacity from Churchill station north to Clareview station.
Mayor Don Iveson has long expressed frustration over the ongoing delays. He reacted somewhat tepidly to Friday's announcement.
"No cause for celebration yet," he said on Twitter. "Only when it's fully operational and yegcc's [Edmonton city council has] got to the bottom of why it was delayed."
No cause for celebration yet - only when it's fully operational and yegcc's got to the bottom of why it was delayed. <a href="https://t.co/QSdgvzJIL8">https://t.co/QSdgvzJIL8</a>—@doniveson
Coun. Ben Henderson said council wanted the line open for the start of the school year at NAIT and MacEwan University so he was pleased a solution was found.
Justin Nand, president of the student association at NAIT, didn't expect the line to open this fall.
"I was a little surprised but very happy and very enthusiastic to have LRT running to some capacity now in September for the students to use," he said.
Nand isn't concerned about the slower trains. He said taking just one train to school is better than having to transfer to a bus even if it makes the trip a little longer.
Owners of businesses around Kingsway Mall are also relieved. Construction on the line has caused traffic congestion and parking problems.
"Parking has been an issue for some of our businesses with students from NAIT and maybe people using the hospital and other facilities," said Ellie Sasseville, executive director of the Kingsway District Association.
"So obviously the access will hopefully eliminate some of that issue for many of the businesses in the area. So we're looking forward to that."
The Metro Line was supposed to open in the spring of 2014. Problems with integrating the new and old signalling systems delayed the opening of the $700-million line.
Thales had the contract to design and build the line. The company gave the city a safety certificate in March. However, after performing a review, the city held back on putting the line in service.