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Confederation Line - Opening September 14, 2019


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The city has just shared a memo on the Revenue Service Availability date and associated liquidated damages. You can find it on the site here : https://www.otrainfans.ca/blogs/clarification-on-lrt-revenue-service-availability-and-associated-liquidated-damages

Generally, not much is new in the memo other than to confirm that the RSA of November 2nd was missed, as was the earlier May 24, 2018. The city is now in a position to deduct the $1 million in liquidated damages from the next payment to RTG.

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To go with the announcement today, here is the video of the end-to-end ride, that I was fortunate to be a part of.  

Rideau Transit Group is asking for some requirements for RSA to be waived to meet the Nov 2 or it will not meet the date. Modification of Fleet Size. Partial opening of Rideau Station

LRT's going to be open on Sept. 14th. Finally! I was starting to think they would keep pushing it back. However, it's also bittersweet news because it means our Orion VII NG hybrids will be

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Hi Shane,

My apologies for posting my question about the "Revenue Service Availability" on a different discussion.

"Manconi said RTG offered to make 32 available for Nov. 2, since the construction consortium somehow lost track of two onboard control computers." Ottawa Citizen, 10 September 2018.

This part seems to have been solved, since I was just told that all of the 34 original LRT's are built.

However, the following is confusing.

"So when will the LRT system finally open to customers? The city doesn’t know yet. It estimates sometime in the first quarter of 2019 if it receives the LRT system on Nov. 30, which is the new handover date proposed by the Rideau Transit Group. The city needs several weeks to test the system after receiving it." Ottawa Citizen, 10 September 2018.

This suggests it would take at least more than a month for the city to start service on Line 1, if First Quarter meant January, but we will probably never know.

It seems like dates have been mentioned, but there is no clear timeline between the moment the city gets the keys and the Grand Opening.

An other thing is the 12 consecutive days of testing without a glitch before the handover.

Philosophically speaking, with such a requirement, it would be possible the system would never open since the calendar is set back to day 1 if anything happens even on day 11. Days of delays could add up rapidly - or very slowly. But I assume that the World Class System being installed has been tested before and that adjustments will be rather minor.

But what puzzles me is how much off the mark RTG was when they said they would meet the November 2018 deadline. I'm looking forward to seeing how far of the target they are with the March 31 date that we already know they'll miss.

As I said before, it would be very nice to have First Stage of Line 1 up and running for Canada Day. which would be quite appropriate since it is the Confederation Line.

Phil

 

 

 

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Very interesting article from Jon Willing of the Ottawa Citizen (Dated May 13th, 2019):

Here is what caught my attention: (these are excerpts from the article)

"The city didn’t say by the end of the afternoon Monday if an independent certifier agrees with the Rideau Transit Group that the $2.1-billion Confederation Line is “substantially complete.”

The city’s transportation general manager, John Manconi, said last Friday that, in the city’s eyes, the LRT system wasn’t finished, even though RTG submitted paperwork suggesting the company reached substantial completion. He said the certifier was to make a decision by 4 p.m. Monday."

...

"When the project is deemed substantially complete, it essentially means there’s nothing in the way of the city using the system."

...

"Almost a year late, RTG would really want a declaration of a substantially complete project so it can finally get closer to recouping $261 million in construction payments from the city. The payments are linked to milestones: $59 million for substantial completion and $202 million for revenue service availability.

"The city and RTG are approaching the “long-stop” date in the contract, which says if the completion date is 365 days after the original revenue service availability date, RTG is in default of the agreement and the city has the right to terminate it."

 

Nothing major will happen if the handover date is beyond the May 24th "long stop date", I doubt the city would terminate the contract. However, passing that date would be an embarrassment for the contractor, to say the least.

You can read the full article here: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/city-reviewing-independent-certifiers-decision-on-lrt-completion

 

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Long-stop date coming soon:

This is from Global News. Posted on 15 May 2019  (Other outlets have also reported the same thing)

The entire article can be found here: https://globalnews.ca/news/5279022/independent-certifier-says-lrt-isnt-substantially-complete-city-of-ottawa-memo/

"Project’s ‘long-stop’ date falls next week

News of the independent certifier’s decision comes a week and a half before the project’s “long-stop” date, which — according to the project agreement — falls “365 days after the required revenue service availability date” (or the original handover date).

The train was first scheduled to be delivered to the City of Ottawa on May 24, 2018, a deadline that was pushed to Nov. 2 and delayed once again to March 31, 2019. The consortium missed the March target date as well.

If RTG doesn’t achieve revenue service availability by the “long-stop” date, the consortium will be in default of the project agreement and the city will have the right to terminate it, according to the document.

There was no word of an LRT launch date during Friday’s update. Manconi said that RTG continues to tell the city it will deliver the train by the end of June.

RTG has several hurdles left to pass before it hands over the LRT, including a trial run, during which the train has to simulate “flawless” service for 12 straight days."

I don't think the city will terminate the contract, but

 

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While I am disappointed with the delays, I think the long-stop date is probably a meaningless measure for the city to use given where we are now and how much is left to do. If we were looking at a multi-year delay, with stations not completed, I would say otherwise, but at least we are closer to delivery than before.

Kinda sad to see a full year late, but I'd argue if it is what we need to ensure launch is smooth and help the first impression, it is worth it. It was nowhere close to be ready last year at the same time, and they are being penalized accordingly.

As for when we will get to ride it, I am not that confident in July anymore. To me it sounds closer to a mid-august launch. Of course I was out of town this week so I haven't been able to observe the testing, but the 12 days of testing cannot start before the city and RTG agree on substantial completion, and RTG demonstrates the work is "complete". For now, the best we can do is follow-up on testing, note our observations and see the progress with our own eyes!

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I agree with you David. Breaking the contract now would result in a very long delay (potentially months or a year even) as they would have to no doubt post and hold a competition to find a new contractor to finish the work. I don't think it would be a quick and simple matter. Add to the fact that RTG is intimately familiar with the system, so any newcomer would have to assess the situation and begin from there. Overall, lengthy tasks to be sure.

I feel at this point, the end is really near and let's just let them finish it as quickly as possible. If it takes another month, or 3 months even, it will be quicker leaving things as they are than shaking everything up.

I think the ideal latest opening scenario for the summer is prior to the first week of September / last week of August. Although I am still hopeful of something sooner.

On a sidenote, I have probably mentioned it before, but I will share it again. O-Train Fans is currently in a holding pattern so to speak, while waiting for the opening. Once the Confederation Line is open, there is plenty of content planned for the site. Things have been a bit slow the past few months as my wife and I had a baby end of January. Hoping to have a chance to do a new round of Snapshot updates (which will very likely the last set before opening), either this week or the next.

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On 5/25/2019 at 8:42 PM, Shane said:

n a sidenote, I have probably mentioned it before, but I will share it again. O-Train Fans is currently in a holding pattern so to speak, while waiting for the opening. Once the Confederation Line is open, there is plenty of content planned for the site. Things have been a bit slow the past few months as my wife and I had a baby end of January. Hoping to have a chance to do a new round of Snapshot updates (which will very likely the last set before opening), either this week or the next.

I think we all are in a "holding pattern" currently, waiting to put our feet on the trains and explore the stations! I also believe I speak for everyone by saying we are really thankful for the time and effort you put in the community, as we will have a world-class LRT very soon. Always insightful and dedicated to the group, I am actually surprised you found all the time to do this content, as I don't even manage to release content on my two channels once a month! ?

Also goes without saying but congratulations on the baby! Fatherhood tends to limit your free-time, but it is totally worth it! Hopefully everyone is healthy and enjoying the last few months at home! ?

 

PS: Nice touch the countdown to the next FEDCO meeting. I should have the day-off so might go sit at city-hall for this one. Hopefully we will have good news!

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Thank you for the kind words David, much appreciated. 

Time has been a bit limited for other projects but being parents is worth every moment.

Still hoping to get out in the next week or so to do a full round of snapshot updates. And I will be returning to work tentatively mid-July (work downtown on Sparks Street) so the LRT is quite literally and physically a stone throw away (not even a block away), so expect alot of downtown updates at that time. And of course once it is open, maybe even stuff daily.

Can't wait! More excited to go back to work for the LRT than the work itself ?

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Next FEDCO and Confederation Line update is this coming Tuesday (June 4th at 9:30am).

No doubt we should have some sort of idea as to whether RTG will be in a position to meet their Q2 deadline. Barely 30 days to go and no further word so far on achieving Substantial Completion. Once that is announced and the independent certifier reviews (up to 5 days) the 12 day test can commence. 

So simple math says latest to start the test is June 18th, the certifier 13th, and the notice of SC a few days before that. So approximately a week after FEDCO would be the deadline to start all of this if my math adds up.

Let's hope that if they don't make Q2 that it doesn't change to end of Q3.

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So I see the date is being missed again, but no new date has been set and the city is not applying the $1 million fine this time. This is getting to be a bit ridiculous if you ask me. Maybe the city should start giving some consideration to finding another company to take over and get this mess fixed, I know that would cause delays too but honestly I have no confidence that RTG is ever going to get to end of job on this.

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So I'm sure most are current with today's news that the train will not be ready by end of Q2 and a new date is not currently set. 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 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 and peered in the glass windows to look around, as well as seeing the trains 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.

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2 hours ago, Jim Henry said:

So I see the date is being missed again, but no new date has been set and the city is not applying the $1 million fine this time. This is getting to be a bit ridiculous if you ask me. Maybe the city should start giving some consideration to finding another company to take over and get this mess fixed, I know that would cause delays too but honestly I have no confidence that RTG is ever going to get to end of job on this.

Hi Jim, it was stated that the $1 million 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, I believe it was back in March, that at the FEDCO presentation, John Manconi 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. Fast forward 60 days and still no date, 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.

or

They were 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.

Even if they dropped the RTG contract as per the contract being one year past due, 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. So to me, replacing Alstom would result in considerable delays if that was even an option. Not sure about that one. It's like saying Ford dealership can fix your Subaru better than Subaru can... Someone else coming in to take over could get things back on track, or it could make things infinitely longer.

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

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My comment will overlap a bit with my last few tweets, but also Shane's perspective.

Obviously I am disappointed with the delay, but it was for most of us well expected that this timeline would not be achievable at this point. From an outsider perspective, we have been making huge progress on the stations (which are splendid and modern), and have a solid alignment for decades to come. However, the rolling stock still requires work, which is quite representative of what we have seen with the testing in the last few weeks. We have seen fewer double-units and variety in vehicles used on the alignment, probably as a result of dwindling fleet availability. Testing has not been continuous, and time between trains was far from consistent.

I also want to bring some attention to similar projects in the country. None of the LRT projects in the last decade was delivered on time, either due to rolling stock or alignment issues. Ottawa is not doing worse, nor better than those other cities. Of course, we are in an echo chamber of criticism, fuelled by the distress of OC Transpo and what I believe was a badly organized transition plan. We are in a far from ideal situation, but the sun always comes after the storm.

A year ago, just past the initial RSA date, we were considerably further back. Stations not complete, vehicles not fully assembled, alignment not certified for any regular operation, and both RTG and the City came to the decision to push it back. In December, the city had the option to do a partial open, which they rejected. Imagine how disastrous and chaotic it would have been, with partial stations in the downtown core, some of the fleet missing, and reliability issues. In December, we were no where close to offering 4 minute headways (my ballpark would have been closer to 10 minute at that time, assuming end-to-end service). The city should do everything it can for a smooth transition, because it will define the next 50-100 years of transit in Ottawa. First impressions stick for a long time, and safety should be the main priority, no matter the delivery date.

At this point, those who are hurt the most is not us, but RTG: payment withholding hurts a lot. They are not getting ANY money at all until they reach the next significant milestone (Approval for RSA), and occur interest charges that the city is not occurring. It sucks from an operational standpoint, as we have reduced service and quality in service, but those costs should and will be held accounted to RTG after the RSA. Are they in financial trouble? I do not believe so, given the massive size of the participating firms. But it is definitely not an enjoyable place for them to be in.

Now, comes the sticky question: when? I think we are looking at late August, but it depends on how quickly progress is made on the vehicles. I do hope it is before September, because we all know how messy back to school gets, and we would be right away in peak season and service, which to me seems a far from ideal situation. However, pushing it even further would not be advantageous. Buses are to be retired, drivers to be terminated and uncertainty is not good for the service patterns and reliability. The quicker we are on track, the better it is. However, quick shouldn't mean compromised, because this is far more risky than taking the time to do it right.

Those lessons are important for Stage 2, but also other cities which will implement a similar system. It is not flawed, nor inappropriate for the needs of the city: it is just a lot of complex elements that need to work together perfectly.

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https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/lrt-delayed-again-wont-be-ready-by-end-of-june

Quote from the article:

"An admittedly “fed up and frustrated” Watson said he, once again, called Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge on Tuesday morning to say he’s had it with Alstom’s performance and he invited the executive of the French-based company to Ottawa to discuss the problems in person with RTG and city staff within the next 10-14 days. According to Watson, Poupart-Lafarge accepted the invitation.

“I told him it’s not going to be a pleasant meeting because we are fed up with the excuses and the system not working to our satisfaction and obviously we’re not going to accept a substandard product on Day 1,” Watson said."

RTG is not being "criticized": it is being held accountable.

When a company signs a 2,1 billion contract with taxpayers money, it has to accountable and I am glad to see City Council taking it seriously.

The long stop date passing means that the relationship between RTG and the City of Ottawa has changed.

And meanwhile, the people who use public transit are penalized because the system is still in transition and Manconi himself acknowledged that fact.

 

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