There was no last spike, but the Confederation Line track is finished
Trains can now be tested in both directions on the 12.5-km rail line
Politicians, media and an actor playing a 19th-century railway financier poured into the eastern end of the LRT tunnel to install the final piece of Ottawa's light rail track on Friday, a significant milestone in the city's $2-billion transit project slated to be completed by November.
Trains will soon be tested in each direction along the 12.5-kilometre track in the lead-up to the public opening day scheduled for later this year.
After the requisite speeches, Mayor Jim Watson, MPP Bob Chiarelli and MP Mona Fortier — wearing top hats — and a slew of other local politicians posed in front of the iconic photo of The Last Spike hung in Tremblay Station. Some rolled their eyes at the stunt, and even the mayor admitted it was "a little cheesy," but everyone seemed excited to get on the train.
Watson blew a train whistle to signal for politicians, staff from the city and Rideau Transit Group — the consortium building the LRT — and reporters to board the Alstom Citadis Spirit train headed west to University of Ottawa station.
Friday's ceremony was the first time many have been on the new LRT. "This is the best!" enthused Coun. Jean Cloutier. "Very quiet, very smooth."
The light-rail trains will travel about 35 km/h between most stations, although they may travel as fast as 70 km/h between Blair and Cyrville stations. This train took participants to just inside the eastern portal of the 2.5-kilometre-long tunnel running under downtown.
Dozens were on hand for Friday's ceremony and took the opportunity to take photos of the train, the completed concrete tunnel, and, of course, themselves.
An actor playing Donald Smith — who drove in the last spike in the CPR — helps Watson, Chiarelli and Fortier hammer gold spray-painted clips into the last piece of track in the Confederation Line. Don't worry. RTG will be replacing those clips.