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‘Major construction’ complete on Eglinton Crosstown but software and quality assurance issues outstanding: Metrolinx

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster says “all of the major construction” is now complete on the much-delayed Eglington Crosstown LRT and work is proceeding “relentlessly” on the remaining parts of the project, but several key issues are still outstanding.

The project was slated to be complete in 2020 but its opening has been repeatedly pushed back.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Vester told reporters that “a lot of progress” has been made on critical system integration tests since the last media briefing on the Crosstown in December. While those tests were 15 per cent complete then, they are now 50 per cent complete.

Software issues, Verster said, are now the biggest obstacle to overcome before the line can open.

“What concerns me most is the software defects in the signalling and train control system and the rectification of those defects by CTS and Alstom,” Verster said. “They’re making good progress with it, but it’s not as fast as we would like it to be.”

He said as of last week, testing had begun on the sixth version of the software and the seventh version is scheduled to be complete in June.

“The signalling and train control system is really the nerve centre of moving trains punctually and on time, as well as safely, and so it’s really critical that that system works well,” he said.

Once the software system is stabilized, training will begin for 20 TTC staff, who will then train 90 operators.

Another major outstanding issue is obtaining construction certificates for the various parts of the project.

A construction certificate “actually certifies that the project has been designed right, built right, delivered right and tested right,” Verster said.

So far, Metrolinx has obtained just one of the 46 construction certificates that are needed to show that the project has been completed properly.

Verster said “a lot of effort” by all teams is going into obtaining the certificates.

He said work to obtain the 41 necessary occupancy certificates, on the other hand, is proceeding well, with 36 of those certificates now in place. He said a few “deficiencies” are still being worked on for the remaining ones, including Eglinton Station.   

Verster reiterated that Metrolinx will provide an opening date once he can be sure that the $12.5 billion line is within three months of opening.

The opening date for the much-delayed 19-kilometre Crosstown line has been pushed back multiple times, but Metrolinx stopped giving new target dates after missing the last announced target in the fall.


Procurement begins for Eglinton Crosstown West Extension

Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria announced at the same time Monday that the province is starting procurement for the station, rail and systems contract for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.

“This contract will cover the design and construction of all seven stations along the line, including architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical work, fitting of the tunnels and elevated guideway with track and signals, installing fare collection systems and much more,” Sarkaria said.

He said the contracts being awarded will also cover the modifications needed to Mount Dennis Station to connect the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the extension.

Once complete, the 9.2 kilometre-project will run from the future Mount Dennis LRT station to Renforth Drive and will operate mainly underground, extending rapid transit into Etobicoke and Mississauga.

“Our government knows transit keeps people moving and is a key driver of economic growth, connecting people not only to jobs, but also to friends and family, medical appointments, school and so much more,” Sarkaria said. “And as we build Ontario for the future, we’re using every lever at our disposal to get priority transfer projects as quickly as possible. As Toronto’s population continues to grow, we cannot afford not to continue to invest in critical infrastructure that the future generations will rely on.”

Asked how people can believe that the extension will proceed as planned when the Crosstown has been plagued with so many delays and problems, Sarkaria said “we’ve learned from previous projects” and pointed to various other projects currently underway, such as the Ontario Line.

He said the province has also adopted “new measures in how we procure these projects.”

Once complete, the Eglinton West extension will connect with other regional transit operators, including UP Express, GO Transit, TTC, and MiWay bus services, and will handle an estimated 69,700 rides per day.