May Ottawa’s expertise with mild rail transit be an indication of issues to come back for Montreal?
The nation’s capital inaugurated its new $2.1-billion Confederation Line in September, however since its preliminary launch, the light-rail system has been beset with problems. Electrical points, malfunctioning doorways and defective switching know-how on the tracks are among the many issues.
The town has pinned a few of the blame for the issues on the personal companions chosen to construct and function the practice line, as a part of a public-private partnership. That ought to be a priority to Montrealers, as a result of lots of the builders and operators of Ottawa’s trains are the identical ones chosen to construct and function the Réseau express métropolitain — a $6.Three-billion automated electrical mild rail mission deliberate to start operation within the area in phases between 2021 and 2023.
The community will convert the prevailing Deux-Montagnes practice line and department out to Trudeau Airport, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Brossard over the Champlain Bridge.
The REM trains on order are being constructed by Alstom, the identical firm used within the Ottawa LRT. Two different builders of the tracks and infrastructure in Ottawa, Dragados and SNC-Lavalin, are additionally answerable for constructing Montreal’s system.
In Ottawa, it’s not clear if the builders of the observe and infrastructure are accountable for the issues or the Alstom trains themselves, or if poor upkeep is the foundation of the issue.
Matti Siemiatycki, an affiliate professor in geography and planning for the College of Toronto’s College of Cities, mentioned the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which is constructing the REM mission, should be paying shut consideration to what’s taking place in Ottawa and whether or not the businesses it has subcontracted for the Montreal system are repeating errors that are actually being uncovered in Ottawa.
“The Caisse will probably be watching this and taking a look at their contracts and suppliers and considering via tips on how to handle any points to see if there are any classes they’ll take early so these points don’t come up,” he mentioned.
Craig Townsend, an affiliate professor in city planning and concrete research for Concordia, mentioned maybe what Ottawa is experiencing is regular for a brand new transit system, particularly contemplating that is the primary time an LRT system is being utilized in that metropolis.
“My private feeling is that a few of that is to be anticipated when a model new system and a brand new type of transit is launched to a metropolis,” he mentioned. “Clearly it precipitated a number of frustrations, and other people had a number of excessive expectations they usually’re upset. However I feel it might be unreasonable to count on that it might be fully easy.”
The town of Ottawa selected to make use of the personal sector to construct its transit system as a result of it needed to make sure it might be dependable and be delivered on time. The Confederation Line, nonetheless, opened almost a yr late and its reliability stays problematic. In Montreal’s case, it’s the Caisse that’s the principal proprietor and would be the sole operator of the system.
Siemiatycki mentioned the Ottawa expertise may have repercussions for future governments contemplating constructing transit programs with a personal sector partnership, which is a comparatively new mannequin.
“I feel this has the potential to be a turning level for public-private partnerships for transit,” he mentioned. “The efficiency on transit has not been pretty much as good as PPPs with hospitals and highways. The on-time and on-budget information for transit tasks haven’t been pretty much as good. The Ottawa state of affairs is now actually bringing this mannequin into the general public area.”
In Toronto, the personal accomplice constructing the Eglinton Crosstown LRT additionally contains SNC-Lavalin and Dragados. That mission can also be dealing with quite a few delays with an anticipated opening date of 2021. Nevertheless, in that case, one of many points is the late supply of trains on order from Bombardier. When the REM mission launched, the Caisse was criticized for not selecting Bombardier to construct its trains.
Talking for the Caisse, Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau mentioned the mannequin of Alstom trains chosen for the REM is rather more strong than the mannequin utilized in Ottawa. That practice is extra like a tramway, whereas the REM mannequin will probably be extra like a métro.
Siemiatycki mentioned each Bombardier and Alstom have their points, and he’s not satisfied that the Caisse’s selection of trains might be problematic.
He mentioned the trains chosen for the REM are much like the trains in use in Vancouver’s Canada Line, which was inaugurated in 2009, with trains constructed by the corporate Hyundai Rotem. That mission, which was additionally constructed by the Caisse, has been a powerful success, Siemiatycki mentioned.
Rouillard-Moreau mentioned the trains chosen for the REM have probably the greatest observe information for reliability on the planet. She added that automated mild rail programs are identified for his or her dependability and are in use in main cities together with Vancouver, Paris, Rome and Barcelona.
She added that the Caisse is already testing its trains and tools in chilly chambers and will probably be conducting real-world testing on a closed circuit within the South Shore for 13 months beginning on the finish of the yr.
Siemiatycki mentioned the Caisse has confirmed previously it will probably ship transit tasks that carry out effectively.
“They’re one of many leaders, and now that they’re constructing in their very own yard; the strain to ship will probably be important,” he mentioned.
Townsend mentioned he’s unsure how a lot expertise the Caisse has in constructing and working transit programs, as a result of within the case of the Canada Line, it merely put up the cash to get the mission constructed. With the REM, the Caisse is rather more concerned within the conception and operation of the system.