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admin 05.09.2013

CANADA: Ottawa Transit Commission has voted unanimously to move ahead with a C$59m plan to expand the O-Train diesel light rail service, including the purchase of six new vehicles. Two new passing loops would be added and signalling upgraded, allowing a cut in headways from 15 min to 8 min.
A tender for the new cars will be issued soon with a delivery deadline of January 31 2014 so that the expanded timetable can be introduced during 2014. Although an earlier proposal suggested refurbishing the three existing Bombardier Talent DMUs at a cost of C$7·6m, the latest plan envisages selling the units for an estimated C$6m. A day after the botched launch of the highly anticipated O-Train expansion, the service was shut down indefinitely Tuesday due to an “electronic problem” at one of the new switching stations. Replacement buses were brought in to deliver morning commuters, while crews tried to diagnose the problem and ran trains through the night Tuesday to test the system. It’s all fed criticism of OC Transpo services from those who say they are too expensive, too unreliable and too frustrating to bother with. And, behind the latest problem, looms another question from the critics: If the city can’t get the O-Train to work, how can residents have confidence that the $2.1-billion Confederation Line will work once it opens in 2018?
The O-Train upgrade was intended to double the number of trains on the line to four, cutting wait times to nine minutes for peak times Monday to Saturday, and to 15 minutes in the evenings and on Sunday.
Blais said crews discovered Tuesday that there was an “electronic problem” at one of the new switching stations that was installed as part of the expansion. The signals are crucial to the system because the majority of the Trillium Line runs on a single track. The issues Monday and Tuesday are “very unfortunate coincidences” but not directly related, Blais said. A mechanical failure at the older switch at Carleton University was the cause of Monday’s delay and it was repaired by RailTerm, the company contracted to perform maintenance and repairs on the O-Train track.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said crews have actually identified two signal interruption issues. In January, the city completed some track work and made a few minor modifications to the track-and-signalling system based on the results of tests before Christmas. Then, it began operating a mock service overnight, several nights a week, for four weeks, to help drivers familiarize themselves with the new trains and with having four trains on the line at a time, instead of two. That was followed by a complete shutdown for six days for final operator training and to fully complete the switch from the old system to the new by making physical changes to the platforms and signage at stations.
Blais said the system passed all of its tests and was running well Sunday, the day before the launch. Mayor Jim Watson has softened his position on photo radar, issuing a statement Wednesday to say he'd support asking the province to approve a pilot project in school zones. In the first part of this series, I introduced the O-train and how it works as a transit line. The O-Train was built as an evaluation project for light right technologies, to test whether it would make sense to build it all over the city. Naturally, these projects are not directly comparable, but generally one should expect cheaper projects to get less riders, so that the ratios work out to be at least in the same order of magnitude.
Several of the items appear pretty cheap, compared to other projects throughout North America – for example the reconstruction of one commuter rail station near Montreal cost 20$ million by itself.
The vehicle acquisition is another item on the budget that appears pretty low – around 5$ Million for three trains. Basically the trains were a lease for the two year pilot project, and had to be paid off when the project continued. It is still a pretty decent deal considering how small the order was, and how quickly the trains were delivered.
It should be expected that the operating cost of the O-train are not very favorable compared to buses.
It certainly helps that the ridership is pretty high given the scope and line length of the project.
Nevertheless there are cost-effectiveness measures on the operations side that are interesting and unique.
The city re-launched an expanded O-train service yesterday, but had problems that caused delays of close to an hour. Today there were more signal and switching issues on the track, so train service was halted entirely. A brief statement from the city said, a€?O-Train Trillium Line service is suspended until further notice.
Crews are working to repair the issue and OC Transpo says O-Train service will remain suspended until at least Thursday morning.
One of the new O-Trains is parked at Carleton University while repairs are made to the Trillium Line. The City of Ottawa is undertaking the expansion of the existing O-Train an eight kilometre light-rail service running from Greenboro Station in the south to Bayview Transitway station just west of downtown Ottawa in order to increase the current frequency of the O-Train from 15 minutes to approximately 8 minutes. The O-Train pilot project’s initial ridership target was 5,100 to 6,400 customer trips per day; actual ridership has now reached more than 12,000 customer trips per day. Doubling (nearly) the service will no doubt bring a lot more credibility to the line as an actual metro grade rapid transit line. I thought that the 'bridge' you described is actually a new parking facility for Carleton students. I know Carleton was considering a parking garage on top of the O-Train Station, but I don't think that's it. The new Carleton parking garage will span across the rail corridor between what is now parking lots 6 & 7. The MOU with Carleton allows the University to construct a major new campus building directly above the North-South corridor.
A new residence is either proposed or already approved, so the parking lot scenario at the north end of campus is being reconfigured.

Perhaps now that more and more people use Presto and since these users are required to swipe their passes, even when they transfer, that'll help with obtaining transit statistics and patterns.
It won't be completely accurate since there's still users using U-Pass, Tickets, Change, Eco Pass, etc, but it'll still be a good sample to work from. If the electronic passes ever get fully implemented, would not each transaction be registered to facilitate getting a more accurate read on each route?
Commuters on the O-Train Trillium line were furious after a switch malfunction stopped the expanded service in its tracks during the Monday morning commute. Transit Commission chairman Stephen Blais arrival at the Carleton University O-Train station was delayed after he opened the expanded service at the Greenboro station. Blais spent part of his morning at Greenboro station apologizing to riders for the delay after a switch malfunction halted service on the day city staff launched the new Trillium line. Riders of the O-Train were very disappointed and frustrated and forced to wait for a bus after a break down in the new O-Train Trillium Line service, March 02, 2015. Blais and OC Transpo general manager John Manconi, who were both stuck at Greenboro, arrived an hour late to the event with dozens of furious commuters. Mayor Jim Watson was scheduled to attend the launch but was absent; he was recovering from the pelvic injury he suffered in a snowmobiling mishap on Saturday.
Watson said in a statement sent out after the train was back up and running that Monday marked a milestone in Ottawa’s transit history. Commuter Sheila Darlaston said it took her 30 minutes to get from the Greenboro station to Carleton University before she was transferred to a bus.
Krishna Madaparthi, a deaf passenger who was stuck on an O-Train, said he looked at the OC Transpo Twitter account to find out what was happening when the train stopped, but it hadn’t been updated. Madaparthi said he followed other passengers off the train at Carleton University and onto a bus that took him to work at Tunney’s Pasture. Veronica Green, a master’s of journalism student, said there was an air of excitement at the Bayview O-Train station.
The excitement was dampened, Green said, when passengers had to wait on the train for 20 minutes before it began to move.
Monday was the first day for an enhanced service that is meant to double the number of trains on the line to four, cutting wait times to nine minutes for peak times on Monday to Saturday and to 15 minutes in the evenings and on Sunday.
The new O-Train Trillium Line service was launched a little behind schedule March 02, 2015.
The key feature of the MMT is the extendable cover over the floodlit working area, which provides staff with protection from the weather and from trains passing on adjacent tracks. The first MMT is based at Darlington and will be operated and maintained by Colas Rail under a three-year contract.
Required maintenance work is requiring OC Transpo to temporarily replace O-Train service on the Trillium line with bus service for three Sundays over the next month.
Required maintenance work is forcing OC Transpo to temporarily replace O-Train service on the Trillium Line with bus service for three Sundays over the next month.
Beginning on Sunday, July 26, Trillium Line service will be replaced by Route 107 bus service that will travel parallel to the train route between Bayview and South Keys stations. In addition to Route 107, there may be other bus route options that work better for some riders. Services would be operated by four cars, with the other two in reserve or undergoing maintenance. Meanwhile, a report on a possible O-Train extension to Leitrim is due by the end of this year.
It’s sending a signal back to the train yard to indicate there is a problem on the track, which is prompting drivers not to proceed.
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The project was realized pretty quickly and cheaply: After a yearlong study the pilot project was approved in September 1999, and public service started on October 15, 2001. But the O-train is a bit of an out-lier, even compared to the initial segments of the Calgary C-Train, which is considered one of the most cost effective transit projects in North America (by attracting a lot of riders to the relatively low cost rail lines). Each of them is equivalent to a bit less than two 85 ft passenger cars as they are used in North America on mainlines.
This makes sense, given that the O-train started as a 2-year evaluation project, and it could’ve been discontinued after that.
Ironically, the diesel-electric version would be more appropriate for the O-train with its short interstation distances, Ottawa probably uses the diesel-mechanic Talents in its most rapid transit-like application.
The contract was with CP (Canadian Pacific Railway), who owned the infrastructure, as a public private partnership.
By the end of 2005, 380K$ of those incentive payments had accumulated (it seems that CP waived about 200$K of those when the city purchased the line in 2005). Nevertheless, the operating cost per passenger was higher than for buses during the initial years: during the first years, only about 30% of the cost was covered by ticket fares, compared to about 55% for the OC Transpo system as a whole. For one, the O-train was the first federally regulated railway using single man operation (i.e. For a rail project, especially one of this small scale, it seems to have been very cost-effective.
Growing demands, along with the requirement to enhance non-Transitway service corridors during east-west LRT construction, highlight the need to increase the frequency and capacity of the O?Train service.
Is that the bridge between University Drive and Campus Avenue (and if so, north near Rideau Canal or south near Rideau River)? At one point they considered having a building over top of the tracks with a tunnel through the main level for the O-Train.
The building would include a station and would also connect with the campus pedestrian underground network.
Regardless, I'm looking forward to the electrification of the O-Train line (and hopefully direct to downtown service) so that Carleton can revive plans to build a permanent building on top of the station.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure how they calculate ridership of both the O-Train and of OC as a whole.
I'm sure that the long term plan is to phase out all the other forms of payment other than Presto and I guess cash. Some of the O-Train riders had been delayed as long as an hour as a result of a switch malfunction at the at the south end of the passing track at the Carleton University station. After a second 20-minute delay, the train arrived at Carleton University shortly before 9 a.m. Manconi said he received nothing but positive feedback from riders before the glitch shut down O-Train service. Riders of the O-Train were very disappointed and frustrated at being forced to wait for a bus after a breakdown in the new O-Train Trillium Line service, March 02, 2015. The train also incorporates a workshop, two 2 tonne cranes, and power points for electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic tools. The second is due to arrive in October and will be based at Paddock Wood, followed by the third in December which will operate from Derby.
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There will be limited stops along the route. The other two Sunday replacement services are scheduled for August 9 and 16. OC Transpo General Manager Alain Mercier said station upgrades might be added to the scheme. The signal is meant as safety feature to indicate there’s a problem on the track and that a train shouldn’t go any farther. Eighteen locations exist on the new passing tracks and each one is being inspected and repaired as needed, Manconi said. The problem could be anything from a faulty wire to a connection, and the work involves physical inspection to identify, locate and resolve the problems, the city said. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. The initial budget of 16$ Million had grown to about 21$ Million by the time the train started running. It certainly helps that the platforms are only 35m long, and built very simply with identical design, with an asphalt or concrete surface and bus-style shelters. And while the budget lists the vehicle acquisition as 5 million, a closer look reveals that they did in fact cost three times as much. But it results in an unfair comparisons with other projects that use the full capital cost of the vehicles involved, and so that fact should be kept in mind.
Presumably this explains the similarity with the DB trains, and some of the German signs that exist on the train.
CP provided the corridor, upgraded the infrastructure, built the stations, and provided the maintenance facility. This seems like another way in which the capital budget was kept a bit lower, possibly at the expense of future capital costs (or operating costs, depending on how the accounting is done). Once the total cost for the vehicles and and corridor are included in the capital cost estimation, the total cost is around 40$million, double the initial capital budget, but still pretty low.
The fact that this is such a short line, with relatively few riders per km compared to actual rapid transit lines, and a tiny vehicle fleet doesn’t help, in terms of economies of scale.
However, the costs may not be quite as low as they appear at first sight – one has to be careful to not count the start-up costs for the evaluation project as the capital costs of the transit line.
When Council voted on Presto, one of the sticky points was what to do with social agencies that give out tickets so that those on extremely low income can make medical appointments, etc. The remaining five MMTs will be based at Woking, Retford, Romford, Peterborough and Horsham. The partnership also included Bombardier for trains, their maintenance and the signalling system. On the other hand, this may have also provided an actual incentive for CP to make the line attractive for users. Plus, with three trains, two of which are always operating, at most two thirds of the fleet is operating. Additionally, the drivers where actually taken out of the pool of OC Transpo bus drivers, instead of hired locomotive engineers.
Testing, training and commissioning of the new system and the new Alstom DMU trains will commence in the Fall of 2013 and be completed by 2014. The lease included the provision to purchase the corridor for around 11$million at the end of the contract.
Implementation of increased service frequency using the new trains is anticipated to commence in Winter 2014. Additionally, the project seems to have been designed with the desire to keep capital costs low, so costs may have shifted to the operations side. This large reserve pool means that there is never a shortage of drivers, contributing to the service reliability of more than 99% (compared to 70% for the overall system). Ecopass is being switched to Presto this fall, I can see no reason not to move U-Pass onto Presto as well. This is an interesting approach not only to reduce the costs of reliably providing vehicle operators, it also addressed the concerns of the labor union, which saw the rail line as a threat to their members’ livelihoods.

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