RTG says it's finished building Confederation LRT Line

The consortium building the Confederation Line has let the city know it's finished building the line and stations, and that they still plan to hand over the keys at the end of June.

But trains are still causing concern for city staff, officials say

Rideau Transit Group says it's finished building the line, but the city says there's still work to be done on the trains. (City of Ottawa)

The consortium building the Confederation Line has let the city know it's finished building the line and stations, and that they still plan to hand over the keys at the end of June.

But the city's transportation manager still has some reservations about the actual trains themselves.

Rideau Transit Group (RTG) have had to overcome some setbacks in constructing the line — including a massive sinkhole on Rideau Street — and are about a year behind schedule.

Now all the stations are substantially finished and all 13 stations have their occupancy permits, transportation GM John Manconi announced Friday at a meeting of the city's finance and economic development committee.

"We're literally down to the decals on the stations," Manconi told councillors.

All 13 stations along the Confederation LRT Line, including Parliament Station, are substantially finished, the city announced Friday. (City of Ottawa)

Trains still not ready 

But there are still deficiencies to "shake out" with the 34 trains built for the new line, and RTG needs to sort it out with the contractor, Alstom.

"The loud, strong message is, 'Alstom, and you better be listening, you've got to get those trains done,'" Manconi said.

While none of the issues are "showstoppers," he told councillors, they still aren't ready for passengers.

As an example, one of the sliding doors doesn't work in one of the cabs. More significantly, sometimes the signalling software puts out error codes that cause the trains to stop moving. 

'An important issue for the public'

Mayor Jim Watson has personally called the chairman of Alstom in France to put pressure on the company to meet its deadline.

"He's assured me that they're going to meet the deadlines to have it ready by the end of this second quarter, which is June 30th," he said. "I went right to the top because this is obviously an important issue for the public."

An independent certifier is now looking over RTG's work to confirm the system really is substantially done before the consortium can begin testing the system.

A decision is expected Monday.

No launch date yet 

If the independent certifier gives RTG the green light, RTG must prove the LRT system can run a "near perfect operation" for 12 days in a row.

After that, an independent safety auditor will decide if the city can safely take the keys.

If all goes to plan, the city could start accepting passengers by the end of July.

Manconi, always hesitant to provide a firm deadline, said the system must be working smoothly before the city agrees to take over the system. He expects the line will launch with full ridership.

"240,000 people will be using that system on day one," he said.

The city will need about a month after it takes over to get ready for passengers, which means the Confederation Line is looking at an opening date in late July at the earliest. 

Derailment was 'human error'

Late last week one of the trains derailed at Belfast Yard, but Manconi assured councillors Friday that it was a result of human error, not a problem with the line.

A switch was flipped while the train was travelling slowly over the fork in the tracks, pulling it off the rails, he explained. 

A new LRT train derailed at Belfast Yard on May 3. (City of Ottawa)

While switches along the line are fully automated, those in the yard are manually operated. 

"I don't want to characterize it as insignificant," Manconi told reporters after the meeting. "Any safety issue is important and we investigate them."

The city is in the process of installing automated switches in the yard.