No expense was spared for the new metro train system being built in Canada’s capital city: It is future-proof for a century.
OC Transpo, the public transit authority for Ottawa, recently shared a time lapse video of a light rail transit (LRT) train doing an end-to-end test run on the new Confederation Line.
Construction began in 2013, and crews are now in the process of completing finishing touches and systems testing ahead of the delayed early-2019 opening. The project was originally scheduled for a fall 2018 opening.
The $2.1-billion LRT project spans a 12.5-km-long east-west route and 13 stations, with its mid-span going through downtown Ottawa and passing by Parliament Hill. The end-to-end travel time is designed to be less than 25 minutes.
While this is an LRT project, it has a heavy-duty design to ensure it runs as a reliable backbone network for Ottawa’s public transit system and has ample room for capacity growth.
Unlike Toronto’s new Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the new Waterloo LRT, Calgary’s C-Train, and the recently cancelled Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT, the Confederation Line is completely grade-separated. This means it has its own exclusive right-of-way — it does not run through any intersections or road crossings, effectively removing factors such as collisions with vehicles and pedestrians from interfering with train operations.
Most of the route runs on ground level, but portions are also elevated and tunnelled, specifically a 2.5-km-long tunnel under downtown that replaces the express bus Transitway. A total of five stations serve Ottawa’s city centre, including stations that serve the University of Ottawa, Parliament, and Rideau Centre.
Stations along the entire route serve major residential and employment destinations, and provide connections to key bus routes.
And unlike Vancouver’s Canada Line, which is limited by 40-metre station platforms that can only be extended to 50 metres, the Confederation Line has a far higher passenger-carrying capacity with platforms that are double the West Coast system’s platform lengths.
Ottawa’s metro will open with 90-metre platforms, expandable in the future to 120 metres. Three underground stations in downtown will be fully pre-built to the ultimate 120-metre length standard.
With a fleet of 17 two-car electric trains upon opening, the Confederation Line can handle 10,700 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) — far higher than the Canada Line’s current capacity of about 6,000 pphpd.
Longer trains and full platform extensions will boost the Confederation Line’s future capacity to up to 25,000 pphpd, elapsing the Canada Line’s ultimate capacity of only 15,000 pphpd and equivalent to the Expo Line and Millennium Line’s ultimate capacity.
Each two-car train is locally assembled by France-based manufacturer Alstom, with each train capable of carrying up to 600 passengers. While the trains will require drivers, the signalling system will be highly advanced with Thales’ SelTrac semi-automatic communication-based train control technology.
Trains will run at frequencies of every five minutes or less during peak hours and a minimum of every 15 minutes after midnight and during some weekend periods.
When it comes to aesthetics, the Confederation Line will also boast some of Canada’s finest train station architecture, with its unique designs, high-quality materials, and spacious concourse spaces.
This is the first phase of the new metro system, which is funded by the federal government with $600 million, the provincial government with $600 million, and the remainder from the City of Ottawa.
A second phase of the Confederation Line will extend the metro 14 kms westward and 12 kms eastward by 2022 and 2023, respectively, and add 19 stations. As part of a $3-billion transit expansion plan, construction could begin soon after next year’s first phase opening.