An LRT in a test run on Ottawa’s LRT system in early July.
Tony Caldwell / Postmedia
The City of Ottawa says the long-awaited Confederation Line is substantially complete, which means the $2.1 billion rail system will begin testing this week.“I’m pleased to report that RTG has achieved substantial completion on LRT and the 12 days of trial running will begin this week,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced Saturday on Twitter. He added a hashtag to his tweet: #AlmostThere.“It’s an important step forward,” the city’s general manager of transportation services, John Manconi, said in an interview Saturday. “There’s still a lot of work left to do to get through the trial running, but this a major step forward for the entire city.”
A sign erected at the LeBreton station of Ottawa’s LRT system in a file photo from early July.
Tony Caldwell /
In a memo to city council Saturday, Manconi said city staff and an independent certifier had both agreed that the Rideau Transit Group (RTG) had met all conditions necessary to deem the light-rail line substantially complete.It means, Manconi wrote, that construction is effectively complete: “This applies to all fixed components — stations, rail, etc. — and vehicles, and means there is no restriction on the city’s public use of the system.”By reaching the milestone, the RTG construction consortium will receive a $59-million payment.Manconi said RTG would launch a full, 12-day trial run of the Confederation Line next week. It’s a critical final step before the consortium officially hands the system over to the city.The 12.5-kilometre LRT line is already more than one year behind schedule, but Watson has expressed hope it will start to carry passengers in September.The trial run will test a regular schedule of trains to confirm the system is ready for passengers. Critical elements of that test, Manconi said, include assessments of the system’s safety, travel times, train intervals, rush-hour service and vehicle performance. Station escalators, elevators, ventilation and public-address systems will be assessed. Night-time maintenance of the rail corridor and its vehicles will also be tested and assessed.“They’re demonstrating that everything they’ve built and will eventually turn over to us operates and can be maintained and is maintained,” Manconi said in an interview.Throughout the trial run, a team comprising RTG representatives, city staff and the independent certifier will review the system’s performance.The independent certifier must decide if the trial run has been successfully completed, at which point an independent safety auditor must also approve the system.It’s at that point that the light rail consortium will be able to submit a “revenue service availability” notice. If the city and the certifier accept the light rail line is ready for business, the city will then officially take possession.
John Manconi, the City of Ottawa’s general manager of transportation services.
Tony Caldwell /
Manconi said the city would need up to four weeks after that point to make final preparations for launch of the Confederation Line. During that time, he said, the city will conduct operational training and implement bus and rail service changes.In his memo, Manconi warned the public it may not always see trains running on the Confederation Line during the test period. “This is normal,” he said, “as there are many different systems being tested at different times throughout this period.”If the light-rail consortium encounters a major problem during the test phase, the full, 12-day trial must restart. It means that, if everything goes without a hitch, the trial run could be completed as early as Aug. 9.Manconi said he expected the service would be available for passengers in September, but he didn’t want to estimate a launch date.“Today is a big day for everybody: our city, our employees, our customers, RTG. It’s a long time people have been waiting for this, and hopefully people see the progress and they see that it’s a step closer.”