LRT launch date delayed until spring 2019

The LRT will not begin operation until spring 2019, that's according to a report that landed at the region's planning and works committee on Tuesday.

Light rail transit faces yet another delay, report reveals

The region says the start date for the LRT will be delayed until spring 2019. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

The LRT will not begin operation until spring 2019 — that's according to a report that landed at the region's planning and works committee.

It's the latest in a series of delays for the project. In April, regional Coun. Tom Galloway said service was set to begin in December of this year.

"We indicated that was an aggressive schedule," Galloway said after the meeting.

"We were trying to keep their feet to the fire and they said it could be accomplished ... and they haven't been able to accomplish it."

A report to committee in September also still indicated a December start date.

The new report saying service can't begin until spring was brought before the region's planning and works committee on Tuesday morning.

"Significantly, no vehicles are yet fully ready for service, in that they have not yet achieved preliminary acceptance certificate," the report said. The region takes ownership of the vehicles once that certificate is completed.

Reason for delay

There are currently 11 vehicles in Waterloo, while three remain in Kingston.

One train is scheduled to be delivered in the coming days, while the remaining two trains still have specialized equipment being installed, said Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation and environmental services for the region.

​The report noted the installation of specialized equipment is taking longer than expected. The equipment includes radios, antennas​ and systems to control gates and traffic signals. That process is now anticipated to be completed in early February.

"Each of these issues has delayed us in getting to the point where the vehicles are ready for service," Schmidt said.

After that, there will still be testing required before the vehicles can be put into service.

Schmidt added there are advantages of having a spring launch in terms of better weather and integrating the LRT system with Grand River Transit.

Training continues

Bombardier has started dry-run tests for burn-in on some vehicles, but those tests will not count toward the official burn-in mileage each vehicle needs to undergo before they can be put into service.

"The next major step to improve the function and reliability of the vehicles is the issuance of the next software upgrade," the report said.

In the meantime, training for 10 train operators continues, the report noted. 

"Training of drivers has been delayed by vehicle reliability issues," the report said, noting the software upgrade is expected to resolve problems. "The Bombardier vehicles are complex vehicles that require routine maintenance as well as any necessary repairs or emergency repairs. Training of staff that will be doing these repairs is continuing."

In terms of cost, the report noted any changes and associated costs can be accommodated within the approved rapid transit funding strategy.

"The region will seek to recover from Bombardier any additional costs incurred as a result of the delays in vehicle delivery," the report said.