Confederation Line being put to the test

A dozen consecutive days of testing for Ottawa’s new light rail line officially began Monday morning, according to the city.

12 days of testing officially began Monday, but restarts are possible

During the testing period, trains are now running more or less as they will when they're in service. (Mathieu Fleury/Twitter)

A dozen consecutive days of testing for Ottawa's new light rail line is officially underway.

John Manconi, the city's general manager of transit services, said testing on the delayed Confederation Line started Monday morning.

On July 27, a memo from city staff said the city and an independent certifier had agreed that the substantial completion milestone had been met.

The memo said the construction and initial testing for the Confederation Line were complete and the system is effectively ready for public use.

The memo came after Rideau Transit Group, which is building the system, notified the city last week that it believed the requirements for substantial completion had been met.

Restarts possible

If there's a major hitch in the next 12 days, however, the trial must start over. That means while it's feasible the trial could be completed as early as about Aug. 9, that will only happen if it all goes flawlessly.

In a written statement, Manconi said the testing is complex and that there are different thresholds for what could trigger a restart.

"For example, 15 double trains need to be launched for morning rush hour. If they do not meet their daily scheduled fleet requirements it could result in a restart," Manconi said.

"Another example is not meeting peak period end to end [Tunney's to Blair] travel times."

Any defined safety infraction or incident would also result in a restart.

Transportation and transit general manager John Manconi said there are different thresholds for what could trigger a restart of testing. (CBC News)

The team conducting the trial run consists of representatives from Rideau Transit Group [RTG], RTG's maintenance wing (RTM) and the city. The independent certifier is also taking part in the testing stage.

They're keeping an eye on safety, travel times, vehicle performance and various other elements including public address systems, escalators and elevators, ventilation and CCTV cameras.

Councillor crossing his fingers

Stephen Blais, who chairs the city's transportation committee and is the former chair of the transit commission, said he was relieved to hear testing has begun.

"We've certainly experienced a lot of negative news about LRT the last little while so it was nice to get a more positive memo," said Blais, who remains cautiously optimistic.

"Our experience with LRT has shown us that we need to be cautious about these kinds of things," he said.

"They [RTG] believe that they're ready to begin, our outside observation team believes that they're ready to begin as well and now it's really up to RTG to deliver."

Coun. Stephen Blais, chair of the city's transportation committee, said he felt relieved to hear that LRT testing had begun. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

During testing, trains are running more or less as they will when they're in service.

But people shouldn't expect to see the trains constantly running, according to the city, because many systems will be tested.

If all goes well, the city and OC Transpo will need another four weeks for preparation, meaning the earliest the first passengers get on the new LRT is mid-September.


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