Confederation Line Update - FEDCO - June 4, 2019

The committee received a status update on the O-Train Confederation Line project. 

Project status:

  • RTG and the city held a workshop to go over the deficiencies remaining that stand in the way of Substantial Completion.
  • Both the RTG and City agree on the plan to achieve Substantial Completion. No grey zones in any points, everything is listed and clear to all involved.
  • Fleet requires reliability with no major reliability or problems. Some minor issues can be tolerated. Currently the fleet is not ready for prime time usage.
  • Issues with the LRV vehicles include problems with doors, coupled train operation, pantograph, brakes.
  • RTG has asked for two additional weeks before they can give a new RSA date. Given all the factors, RTG will not achieve June 30th, due to ongoing vehicle issues. New date will be given later. 
  • More experts coming in to assist Alstom in rectifying vehicle reliability.
Important points from the update:
  • Steps moving forward : RTG needs to complete the 9 critical elements including vehicles. Once done, they can submit notice of Substantial Completion. 
  • If Independent Certifier agrees, then 12 day trial running, mimicking revenue service. 
  • If successful, Safety Certifier validates.
  • Then RSA (revenue service availability) will have been achieved and the handover of the system to the city will take place.
  • Fare freeze was until July 1st. Council asked to consider by June 12th if the fare freeze should be extended due to LRT delays until the train is open and operating.
  • Delays of Stage 1 LRT is currently not affecting Stage 2 LRT construction or work. Things are moving forward now with Stage 2.

My take on the current situation:

RTG asked for a two-week extension (from May 31st) to provide a new RSA date. That would put it around June 14th, so perhaps news or some indication of the new RSA target will be disclosed sometime around then. The stations are completed, and the only work remaining is clean up, landscaping and related work, which doesn't sound essential for opening. It's the trains that are the last holdout. Lots of expertise is being brought in to get things on track as quickly as possible.

I do share in the disappointment of the delays. Obviously I am a big supporter of the line and eager to ride the rails, but obviously there are issues with the trains and they need to be rectified before it opens. Opening and having trains break down on the line causes service interruptions and service delays, so the city is right in not accepting it as it currently is. Having visited all the stations from the outside and peered in the glass windows to look around the insides, as well as seeing the trains testing and running along the line, the final product and service will definitely be worth the wait.

I would assume that every effort is being made to get things open as soon as possible but as it has been disclosed before, once the system is handed over to the city, they do need around 3-4 weeks before the service officially launches. At this point, an August opening or beginning of September could be possible, but nothing is for sure as long as the train issues continue. Hopefully once the new RSA date is disclosed, or with any luck over the coming few weeks, the bugs and malfunctions with the trains will be corrected and things will be able to move forward with the 12 day testing, certification, safety sign off and then the handover.

It's the closing stages of the first phase of the Confederation Line. I believe the end is in sight, we just have to be patient a little longer.

A question was asked on the forum about why the $1 million penalty wasn't applied. From the explaination today at FEDCO, the penalty wasn't applied this time as a new RSA date was not set after they missed March 31st. They had 60 days to disclose a new date but are now asking for a two week extension (which would put that at around June 14th or so). Once that date is set and should it be missed, at that point it sounds like they would be hit with the penalty.

Interestingly now that I think of it, back in March , during the FEDCO presentation, John Manconi (or someone else) stated that RTG had 60 days to disclose a new date, yet they informed the city that they wouldn't need the full 60 days. (Link here to go to the March FEDCO, and listen to audio starting at 20:25). Fast forward 60 days and still no date but an additional two week extension, after saying it wouldn't take 60 days. Two ways to look at that.... either

They (RTG) missed a soft deadline they themselves set of when they would disclose the new RSA date.


They (RTG) were too optimistic and didn't have any reason to believe there would be issues. Obviously the problems with the trains might have already been happening but they might have felt it was able to be controlled and fixed in a reasonable amount of time. Seems now the issues are more involved and are taking longer to sort out.

In regards to the Longstop date, 1 year after the original RSA date, whereby the city could terminate the contract and seek another group to complete the work, here are my thoughts...

If they dropped the RTG contract, the trains are built and manufactured by Alstom, so getting another manufacturer to come in would be difficult as they are not familiar with the technology and vehicles. Not to mention access to original parts and engineers. So to me, replacing Alstom would result in considerable delays if that was even a possible option. Really not sure about that one. It's like saying a Ford dealership is in a better position to fix your Subaru... Someone else coming in to take over could get things back on track, or it could make things infinitely longer, or worse, lead to even more issues.

Looking at Toronto's Rocket subway (Bombardier) and Montreal's Azur metros (Bombardier-Alstom), as well as Toronto's Bombardier Flexity streetcars, all of these projects had delays, issues and setbacks, but eventually hit the tracks. Sadly it would seem like Ottawa's Citadis Spirit trains will be no different, as the various issues get worked out. It's not ideal, it's not acceptable, but it has happened elsewhere.

Not a good situation for sure. Let's see what news comes out next week and hope that there's some indication on where this is all headed, timewise.

The audio recording of the portion of the committee meeting dealing with the Confederation Line update.

Confederation Line Update - FEDCO - June 4, 2019

The presentation slideshow of the Confederation Line update.

Memo: Q1 2019 Confederation Line Quarterly Memo to...
Memo: O-Train Confederation Line Substantial Compl...