The Confederation Line, also known as Line 1 of the O-Train network, is planned to open in November 2018 and will run east to west in Ottawa.
The Confederation Line will be the second line put into service on the O-Train network after the Trillium Line and replaces the bus rapid transit service known as the Transitway.
Ottawa City Council approved the Confederation Line project and awarded the contract to the Rideau Transit Group consortium in December 2012. Construction began in 2013 at a cost of just over $2.1 billion, making it the largest infrastructure project in the history of the city.
Phase 1 of the Confederation Line will run between Blair and Tunney's Pasture Stations. Its most important feature is the 2.5km downtown tunnel which passes below the busy downtown core and avoids 14 traffic lights and intersections that slow down the current bus service. The line will have 13 stations along the 12.5km route, 3 of which will be underground stations and located in the tunnel. Above ground, most of the line and stations will use the already established corridor of the Transitway, which is being converted from road to rail. Overall, the trip between Blair and Tunney's Pasture Stations will take less than 24 minutes, regardless of the time of day.
The downtown tunnel was created using road tunnel header machines. These machines are smaller and quieter than typical large tunnel boring machines, thereby enabling construction crews to limit noise and vibrations transmitted to surrounding buildings. The tunnel and stations were cleared via three points of entry. The east tunnel entrance near Laurier and Nicholas Streets, the west tunnel entrance near Albert Street and Bronson Avenue, and a central shaft near Kent and Queen Streets. From these three points, excavation was completed and mined materials were removed. This method brought the advantage of minimizing road closures and avoided use of the more traditional "cut and cover" method.
The Confederation Line will be operated with 34 Alstom Citadis Spirit trains. These trains, which have 4 cars, can transport 300 passengers each. Typically during rush and peak periods, two trains will be coupled together, thereby increasing the capacity to 600 per train. The Confederation Line will launch with a planned peak capacity of 10,700 passengers per hour in each direction. With possible future expansions, the capacity can increase to over 18,000 passengers per hour in each direction. This increase can be accomplished by running longer (higher capacity) trains and increasing the station platform length, as well as decreasing headways (interval) between trains.
The trains are operated with electricity provided by an overhead cantenary (wire) supplying 1500 volts DC current. This will significantly reduce air pollution as the trains will emit zero emissions.
The trains were assembled at Alstom's plant in Hornell, New York, with the final assembly taking place in Ottawa at the Belfast Yards Maintenance, Storage and Administration facility (also known as MSF). It is here that the trains are also stored and maintained when not in service. The MSF can be reached by a connection track that is located between St. Laurent and Tremblay Stations, and runs parallel to Belfast Road.
The stations of Phase 1 include from east to west (downtown underground tunnel stations are underlined): Blair, Cyrville, St. Laurent, Tremblay, Hurdman, Lees, uOttawa, Rideau, Parliament, Lyon, Pimisi, Bayview and Tunney's Pasture. The stations will all feature fare gates to control access, and some will also include fare paid zones, to allow seemless transfers between bus and train. The terminus stations of Blair and Tunney's Pasture, as well as the transfer station of Hurdman, will be designed to handle the additional flow of passengers as they transfer at the end of the line to continuing service provided by bus. Bayview Station will provide transfers to the existing O-Train Trillium Line.
The downtown stations will integrate into existing buildings and provide several entry points, including direct indoor connections. Rideau Station has an indoor connection to the Rideau Centre, located between Shoppers Drug Mart and Farm Boy on the 1st Level. Parliament Station has an interior connection to the Sun Life Financial Building and Lyon Station connects to the underground concourse of the Place de Ville complex. Of course, all these stations have several additional entrances accessible from street level. It is important to note that the St. Laurent Station is also an underground station, situated outside of the downtown core.
The station platforms will be 90 metres in length, while those in the downtown tunnel will be 120 metres. The above ground stations were designed to allow for the possibility of future length expansion to 120 metres, to allow longer trains to be used.
Phase 2 of the Confederation Line will begin construction in 2019. It will bring service east 12km with 5 new stations to Orleans by 2022, and west 15km with 11 new stations to Nepean, Bayshore and Moodie in 2023. In total, an additional 38 additional Alstom Citadis Spirit trains will be acquired to support these extensions.