The City of Edmonton has formulated a backup plan to get its Metro Line up and running after months of delays.
The city announced this month it will have the line in service on Sept. 6.
However, it will be running at half its maximum speed. The line runs to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).
At a press conference Aug. 14, city transportation manager Dorian Wandzura explained that since July 31 the city has been working with its independent signal engineering consultant (owner's engineer) Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM), to develop an interim signalling solution that would allow the Metro Line to operate.
The project team has developed and tested a "line of sight" operation that is safe and suitable for public service and can be implemented immediately.
According to the city, line of sight is a railway industry mode of operation that requires a speed restriction so that train operators can come to a stop within half the range of their vision.
The operation for the Metro Line requires that trains do not exceed 25 km/h between MacEwan Station and NAIT Station.
The 25 km/h speed restriction will allow LRT service about every 15 minutes between Churchill Station and NAIT Station.
Travel time between Churchill and NAIT will be approximately 14 minutes.
"While not as fast as we will eventually get to, this is still faster than the bus service we have today," Wandzura said.
To keep up with the pace, the city will add an extra train.
The city is still working towards full implementation, which will remove the operating restriction and run Metro Line trains at maximum speeds of 50 km/h.
Once the city's signalling contractor Thales fully implements the signalling system, the Metro Line will offer 10-minute frequency service between Health Sciences Station and NAIT Station. Travel time between Churchill and NAIT will be about seven minutes.
Once the Metro Line opens to public service, Edmonton Transit System (ETS) will continue to maintain high-frequency (every 15 minutes or better) bus service between downtown and NAIT on Routes 8, 9 and 15.
ETS is also prepared to put the Ookspress express bus service between downtown and NAIT into immediate as a contingency.
If the Ookspress is required it will operate at 15-minute frequency during peak periods and evenings.
The Metro Line has been delayed for 15 months because Thales has not delivered the system on time.
Wandzura claims the city wasn't given all the necessary information it needed to accept the safety certification. While staff have not observed any safety problems with the signalling system, the paperwork is still needed to prove things were conducted properly.
Rail Safety Consulting, a U.S. company, has been contracted by the city to go over Thales' testing methods and data and some tests may have to be completed again.
Mayor Don Iveson said it isn't time for celebration yet.
"(We can celebrate) only when it's fully operational and yegcc's (Edmonton City Council) has got to the bottom of why it was delayed," he said.