Ottawa Light Rail –Federal Government Pledges $600-Million Towards Project

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The Canadian Federal Government is funding light rail projects in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, but at $600-million, Ottawa the nation’s capital is receiving more federal aid for its light rail project expansion than any other city.


More than a decade in the planning, with numerous stops and starts, Ottawa is finally pushing ahead with the project in the hope that at least the downtown stage will be completed in time for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.


Ottawa’s traffic problems are legendary and the main highway the 417 Queensway reduces to a crawl every rush hour in spite of recent improvements and residents who select the bus often find themselves caught in traffic jams as all routes to the suburbs squeeze the same downtown streets.


Plans are now moving ahead to bore a three-kilometre tunnel just blocks from Parliament Hill as Ottawa joins other Canadian cities in hoping light rail is the answer to downtown traffic jams and intense commuter frustration.


The $2.1-billion construction project is scheduled to run right through Canada’s 150th-birthday celebrations, wrapping up a year after the 2017 festivities.


The 12.5-km LRT route will link Tunney’s Pasture and Blair station. There are 13 proposed stations, including at least three underground stations in the tunnel. The tunnel portion of the project will be 3.2-kilometres long with estimated costs just for the tunnel at $735 million. Outdoor stations will have to be enclosed to protect passengers from Ottawa’s harsh winter weather.


Preliminary station designs have recommended building the lower part of the enclosures with wood as a characteristic trait that pays homage to Ottawa’s history as a lumber town. The two main themes, innovation and environment, will be applied to the design of the stations.


The city council is dedicated to having an open and transparent procedure to select artwork that will be displayed along the entire route. The hope is that there might be station-specific topics, such as an Algonquin topic proposed for LeBreton station and gallery theme for Rideau station.


The city council believes light rail line will cost about $981 million to run over the first 30 years all funded by the city. Forecasts have indicated up to $100 million in annual savings starting in the first year of service, with buses being replaced with trains as OC Transpo revises the bus network. The city also claims the project will reduce downtown bus traffic by 50 per cent and reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 38,000 tonnes per year.


The existing light rail line utilises Bombardier Talent DMU trains. And as the City of Ottawa prepares to spend billions that probably puts Bombardier on the inside track in the purchase of rolling stock for the new light-rail system.


As the Ottawa Talent is not certified for simultaneous passenger freight shared-track operation,, freight traffic is not permitted on the O-Train’s route while passenger services are running. Although it is still legally classified as a main-line railway, Transport Canada allow the O-Train to use One-Person Train Operation, with fares collected through a proof-of-payment system.


Bombardier Talent DMU trains are a derivative of trains originally developed by Waggonfabrik Talbot in Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany just before Bombardier purchased the company in 1995.


The name Talent is an acronym in German for TALbot LEichter Nahverkehrs Triebwagen (English translation: Talbot light suburban motor-coach).

It comes in a number of variations: high-floor, low-floor, diesel-mechanical, diesel-hydraulic, diesel-electric, electric, and tilting. Usually with two, three, or four carriages.


The Talent is an articulated railcar with shared jacobs bogies. The interior is to all intents and a purpose is a single, extended cabin where you walk from end to the other without opening doors. However a Talent unit cannot be easily disassembled or reshuffled without the aid of a railway yard because of the shared bogies.


After a prototype was presented in 1994, the first Talents entered service in 1996. They are used by mainline railways in Germany, Austria and Norway and more than 260 are in service worldwide.


As the world economic slowdown bites the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is apprehensive that most federal infrastructure financial support is now committed and there are currently no major programs for transit and other city needs beyond 2014. Experts warn that the countrywide mass transit-spending spree is unlikely to last in the face of years of expected government restraint.

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Bernard Peters has 13 articles online

Bernard Peters writes articles for the Tramsworld website Providing up-to-date news and press releases, with comprehensive reports on current industry projects and developments. The website highlights the specific issues relevant to the tram/streetcar/light rail industry focusing on technology, development, engineering, systems, IT, production issues and human resources.

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Ottawa Light Rail –Federal Government Pledges $600-Million Towards Project

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Ottawa Light Rail –Federal Government Pledges $600-Million Towards Project

This article was published on 2011/07/29