It’ll be a while yet before the Metro Line LRT is running the way they had hoped it would in April of 2014. A safety audit presented to city council is says the system still isn’t working properly, especially with signals getting from the train to the crossings. Gate arms, signal lights and bells aren’t always activating when they should.
“Rail Safety Consulting has concluded that the system is safe to run at full speed operation with the exception of the at-grade road crossings,” Adam Laughlin, the city’s infrastructure GM told council. “The concerns are at the at-grade road crossings not being able to run at full speed.”
“The reliability at the intersections isn’t there and we need to make sure they’re resolved before we move to those full speed operations, plan-B service.”
So begining in two weeks, operators of the trains will speed up, and slow down over the 3.3 km between coming out of the tunnel at Churchill Station, and running to NAIT.
“We’re still seeing intermittent loss of communications between the trains and the signalling system,”Laughlin said. “We’re still experiencing some short warning times at road crossings where the train is close to the crossing and the gate arms haven’t come down when identified. That’s mitigated today by the line-of-sight operations that we’re using. And we’re having issues with the variable message sign boards.”
Later in July and August, working on integrating the train signals and the traffic signals will begin to make it so motorists aren’t tied up as long as they are now.
Councillors remain skeptical. Coun. Tony Caterina doubts the drivers running the trains will be able to make up any time between stations, when there are five intersections the LRT has to cross, especially during rush hour traffic.
“They’re saying it’s safe except at five of the at-grade crossings, which is a three kilometer line so how do you run full speed with having to operate at line-of-sight at short distance with all those at-grades?”
“Let me ask the big question. This is fixable, correct?” asked Coun. Michael Oshry. “At some point this is going to up and running, working one-hundred percent?” After what seemed like forever, but was really three seconds, city manager Linda Cochrane answered “That’s our intent.”
“I’m quite concerned with the pause there,” Oshry replied.
“When can we have the official ribbon cutting on this line?” Coun. Mike Nickel asked. “Quite frankly, I would not have a ribbon cutting, I wouldn’t recommend that period,” said Cochrane.
Plan B will be when the trains can run at full speed, which is the next step after the speed up slow down phase. However Plan B also means the trains won’t be running at full capacity of six trains per hour, only four. That is expected to be the schedule late in August as the ETS gets ready for the return of students in September.
The final Plan A, when the trains will run at full speed, and at full capacity is slated for the first three months of 2017.