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O-Train travels east of Blair Station for first time as part of LRT Stage 2 construction

OC Transpo says an LRT vehicle travelled east from Blair Station for the first time Sunday evening, as construction continues on Stage 2. (OC Transpo/X) OC Transpo says an LRT vehicle travelled east from Blair Station for the first time Sunday evening, as construction continues on Stage 2. (OC Transpo/X)
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The O-Train slowly travelled east of Blair Station for the first time Sunday evening, as construction continues on Stage 2 of Ottawa's light-rail transit project.

In a memo to Council Monday morning, OC Transpo acting general manager Michael Morgan said an Alstom Citadis Spirit train operated on the O-Train East extension for the "first time" from Blair Station to Montreal Station following the end of regular O-Train Line 1 service Sunday evening.

"Travelling at walking speed, the train was escorted by staff on foot to verify the interface between the train’s pantograph and the OCS while the train was in motion," Morgan said, calling it an "important milestone" on the O-Train east extension.

"Additional testing between Blair Station and Montréal Station is anticipated later this week as crews continue to test and validate the (overhead catenary system) system."

Morgan says OC Transpo was able to move a train east of Blair Station following testing activities including track commissioning, traction power substation testing and overhead catenary system testing.

"It was a very big step and the team was really excited to get it down last night," Morgan told Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work with guest host Graham Richardson.

"First time a train has gone past the end of Blair Station on the way to Montreal Station, so it was a pretty exciting time for the team."

As part of Stage 2 of Ottawa's LRT system, the Confederation Line will be extended 12.5 km east from Blair Station to Trim Road, with five new stations at Montreal Road, Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard, Convent Glen, Place d’Orléans and Trim Road.

"Testing of the signal and train control system is expected to start this spring, after which residents will see regular, slow speed testing of trains on the line," Morgan says.

Morgan says last night's testing was focusing on the rail infrastructure, and not the LRT vehicle itself.

"We basically have a full year of testing and then we're going to start our training program early next year ahead of going into passenger service."

A report for the light rail transit sub-committee meeting on Thursday says the overhead catenary system cable installation is complete between Blair Station and approaching Jeanne d'Arc Station, with cable installation beginning east of Jeanne d'Arc station towards Trim Station. The energization of the Traction Power Substations for Montreal and Jeanne d'Arc stations will take place early this year.

"All trackwork in the east has been completed with the continuation of deficiency correction work," the report says. "Finishing works at Montreal and Jeanne d’Arc stations continue. Mechanical and electrical work is ongoing at Convent Glen, Place d’Orléans, and Trim stations."

OC Transpo has said full revenue service on the eastern extension of the LRT system is expected to begin in late spring 2025.

"By the end of the year, we should have multiple trains going all the way to Trim Station," Morgan said Monday morning.

"I mean it's a start," said Drake Witwicki who learned of the tests Monday. He relies on the LRT, commuting from Orléans to downtown Ottawa daily. "It's a good start and they need to keep making good starts until they get to the finish. I mean that's all you can really ask for but I just don't have a lot of trust in it."

Multiple issues have surrounded the LRT since day one, leaving riders frustrated and wary of the service.

"With stage one, the system was rushed into service for political reasons and it wasn't ready and they knew it wasn't ready, so this time they're being extremely cautious," said president of advocacy group Transport Action Canada, David Jeanes.

"Stage two is the game changer in my mind," said Coun. Tim Tierney. "Stage one is the backgrounder... clearly we've had issues with stage one but stage two has been doing a terrific job plowing ahead."

More testing between Blair and Montreal stations is expected later this week. The target date for service is 2025.

"It's pretty cool, though; I've been waiting for it for awhile," said transit user Juliane Meheux. "It's going to be so much easier to get form one place to another instead of doing an hour trek to the city... I do maybe 45 minutes?" 

The western extension of the Confederation Line to Algonquin College and Moodie Drive is expected to open in late 2026, 17 months behind schedule.

The new north-south Trillium Line, operating between Bayview Station and Riverside South, is expected to open this spring.

Morgan says OC Transpo and its partners are "leveraging the lessons learned" to improve the LRT system as it expands.

"It's getting better and better every day and once we're done with Stage 2, the reach and expanse of the system is going to be fabulous for the city of Ottawa."

Ottawa's light rail transit sub-committee will receive an update on the LRT construction on Thursday.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jackie Perez.

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