News / Edmonton

Edmonton's Metro line cleared to run at full speed

Starting Sunday, the problem-plagued line will be operating at 50km/hr after operating at half speed for months.

Metro file

Edmonton’s slow-moving Metro Line has finally gotten the green light to run full speed through intersections.

The city announced Wednesday that Rail Safety Consulting — an independent safety auditor hired to ensure the line’s new signaling system is sound — has lifted the speed restriction in place at intersections starting Sunday.

Mayor Don Iveson said the news was a major milestone for the 3.3-kilometre Metro Line, which has been plagued with problems since opening, behind schedule, in 2015.

“This is full speed ahead,” Iveson said, dryly. “We’ve been waiting a long time to see that gain, so this is a major step forward. We’ve been working hard to get it to function as designed and, at least with the Metro Line portion, we’ve now achieved that.”

Related

When it comes to getting the Metro and Capital lines fully integrated and running as intended (which the city calls “Plan A”), deputy city manager Adam Laughlin would only offer “2017, without a specific date” as a timeline.

“There’s still work to do,” Laughlin told reporters. “[Lifting the speed restrictions] allow us to move toward the next step, which is getting to what we originally were hoping to get out of this, which is an integrated signaling system with the Metro Line and Capital Line.”

In the meantime, he said Metro Line trains will run faster now and slightly reduce travel times.

The LRT line has long operated at speeds below 50 km/h due to a broken signaling system, causing major headaches and requiring extensive software patches.

The line missed its very first deadline back in April 2014, and since then the city has struggled with problems.

The city has yet to pay contractor Thales the final installment for the $755-million project (Iveson said the holdback is in the range of $17 to $20 million) and won’t until six months after the system is fully functional.

The mayor expects further discussion with the vendor “about compensation along the way for performance”, but wouldn’t say more Wednesday.

-with files from Jeremy Simes