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O-Train Confederation Line System FAQs

Q1. What is the O-Train Confederation Line?

A1. The O-Train Confederation Line transit project is Ottawa’s largest single infrastructure project since the building of the Rideau Canal.

This project – which replaces existing diesel powered buses with electric light rail trains – is the first stage in the City’s future rail network. It runs 12.5 kilometres from Blair Station in the east to Tunney’s Pasture in the west, with a 2.5 kilometre underground tunnel through the downtown. In total, there will be 13 stations on the line, and this project also includes a state-of-the-art maintenance and storage facility at Belfast Yard.

Q2. What is the total cost of this project and who is funding it?

A2. The total cost of the O-Train Confederation Line project is $2.1-billion, and it is jointly funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa.

Q3. When did construction on the O-Train Confederation Line begin? When will it be operational?

A3. O-Train Confederation Line construction began in 2013, and the new service will begin operations in 2018.

Q4. How many stations will the O-Train Confederation Line have?

A4. The O-Train Confederation Line will have 13 stations: Blair, Cyrville, St-Laurent, Tremblay, Hurdman, Lees, uOttawa, Rideau, Parliament, Lyon, Pimisi, Bayview and Tunney’s Pasture. Four stations will be underground: Rideau, Parliament and Lyon stations as part of the downtown tunnel with integrated entrances (i.e. entrances will be built into existing infrastructure/buildings), and St-Laurent Station.

Q5. Why does Ottawa need light rail and, specifically, a downtown tunnel?

A5. Ottawa, with the highest ridership per capita of any city its size in North America, is facing a significant transit challenge. The bus volume capacity is limited to approximately 180 buses per hour along the Albert and Slater Street Corridor. It is anticipated that the bus system will no longer be able to expand service beyond 2018. Transit through downtown accommodates 9,500 to 10,000 customers per direction during peak hours, and the City estimates that ridership is going to grow rapidly over the next two decades. By moving rapid transit underground in the downtown area, it will reduce congestion, increase transit reliability, increase capacity for the growth of the city, and create additional surface capacity for improved streetscapes.

Q6. How often will the trains run? How much more capacity will the O-Train Confederation Line provide?

A6. During peak service, the train will arrive every 5 minutes or less on the Confederation Line. Service will be frequent all day, and every 15 minutes after midnight.

The O-Train Confederation Line has a planned peak capacity of 10,700 passengers per hour in each direction in 2018, with the potential to grow to over 18,000 passengers per hour in each direction by 2031 and ultimately 24,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

Q7. What kind of cars are being used for the O-Train Confederation Line?

A7. The City has purchased 34 fully electric Alstom Citadis Spirit cars for the O-Train Confederation Line. The Citadis family of cars are used in more than 40 major cities around the world and have reliably carried more than 4.2 billion passengers. The Alstom Citadis car will be energized through an Overhead Catenary System (OCS) (Q8).

Each two-car train is 98 metres long and has the capacity to carry 600 passengers. These trains offer the best in class and comfort, and feature ultra quiet operation both inside and out. The trains have also been designed to maintain comfort and reliability in all of Ottawa’s extreme weather conditions. In addition, regenerative braking technology and a 98 per cent efficient electric drive system mean a state-of-the-art, zero-emission light rail train.

Q8. What is the O-Train Confederation Line’s Overhead Catenary System (OCS)?

A8. The Overhead Catenary System (OCS) is comprised of physical supporting structures, such as poles and overhead wires. The OCS system distributes power from Traction Power Sub Stations (TPSS)* to the car through a pantograph, a device mounted on the roof of a light rail car that collects power through contact with the overhead wires. *TPSS structures are approximately four metres high by five metres wide by 15 metres long. They convert electricity from the local power sources to the voltage levels needed by the LRT cars.

Q9. How much electricity does it take to power the trains?

A9. The average voltage for the O-Train Confederation Line is 1,500 volts. Voltages vary across the alignment depending on the load the train is carrying and distance from the nearest substation.

Q10. How many trains are currently assembled at Belfast Yard?

A10. As of December 1, 2016, five of the 34 light rail cars are fully assembled, with the full complement of cars anticipated to be completed by the end of 2017.

Q11. What are the environmental benefits of moving to electric light rail from diesel-powered buses?

A11. The O-Train Confederation Line will help the City reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 94,000 tonnes per year, and other pollutants, such as nitrous and sulphur oxides and volatile organic compounds, by 4,600 tonnes per year by 2031. It will also mean a reduction of 10 million litres of diesel fuel. In terms of noise pollution, these quiet trains will emit a noise level of five decibels, lower than that generated by vehicular traffic.

The City of Ottawa will not only see environmental benefits when the Confederation Line starts running in 2018, but it has also seen many benefits throughout the construction period. For example, in terms of materials recycled, in 2016 an average of more than 250 tonnes of construction materials per month have been diverted from landfill. These materials include asphalt, metal and concrete, as well as other organic material such as construction wood.

Q12. What are some of the economic benefits of the O-Train Confederation Line to the City of Ottawa?

A12. As of November 2016, more than $600 million in contracts have been awarded to local suppliers. Throughout the scheduled 5-year construction period, the O-Train Confederation Line is estimated to generate more than 3,200 person-years of trades’ employment in Ottawa. Expertise in mass transit control systems and communications will also require highly skilled technical staff leading to an additional 700 person-years of employment in Ottawa.

Various industries and numerous local suppliers have also been positively impacted by construction on the Confederation Line, including fleet, tunnel safety equipment, office suppliers, concrete and construction companies, to name a few. In addition, approximately 100 people have been hired to assemble the cars at Belfast Yard.

Q13. What improvements will the O-Train Confederation Line provide for customers?

A13. The opening of the O-Train Confederation Line in 2018 marks a major transformation in the delivery of transit service in Ottawa. Various customer improvements will be realized, including but not limited to the following:

  • The Confederation Line will replace bus routes along the Transitway between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations, and will provide reliable and easy commuting through downtown as well as capacity for future growth;
  • Connections at O-Train Confederation Line stations will be easy and simple for customers;
  • Stations will be comfortable, attractive, and secure, and have been designed based on universal accessibility principles; and,
  • All O-Train stations on the Trillium Line and Confederation Line will have automated fare control to make it easy for customers to pay fares.

Q14. Who is building the O-Train Confederation Line?

A14. The City of Ottawa has assembled a strong public-private partnership that includes financial commitments from the City of Ottawa and provincial and federal governments, and a proven private-sector project team – a world-class consortium of Canadian and international companies - called Rideau Transit Group (RTG).

Q15. How will customers be affected by the changes to the transit network?

A15. The transition to a multimodal transit system in 2018 will affect most current transit routes and customers. Many customers will have a different journey compared to today, as they may:

  • Have to make a new connection from bus to train or from bus to bus;
  • Use a fare gate; and,
  • Use a bus route with a different number.

Making connections will be an integral part of the 2018 route network. O-Train Confederation Line stations have been designed to make these connections easy and comfortable.

Q16. How will customers purchase fares at O-Train Confederation Line stations?

A16. All O-Train stations on the Trillium Line and the Confederation Line will have automated fare control to make it easy for customers to pay fares. Ticket machines will allow customers to buy fares and to purchase and reload Presto cards, and will also provide a direct audio-visual link to customer service representatives for assistance. Fare gates will accept smartcards and other fare media (such as transfers and event tickets) with barcodes.

Q17. What features will stations have to make it easy for customers to connect to the O-Train Confederation Line?

A17. All 13 O-Train Confederation Line stations will have many features that will make it easy for customers to make connections, including:

  • Next-bus and next-train arrival information that will give customers real-time information on both the train and bus platforms;
  • Customers will be able to transfer with ease between train and buses and vice versa through fare-paid zones in major transfer stations;
  • Sheltered bicycle parking and connections to multi-use pathways;
  • Automated fare control to make it easy for customers to pay fares; and,
  • All stations have been designed based on universal accessibility principles.

Q18 What features will major transfer stations have to make it easy for customers to connect from buses to the O-Train Confederation Line?

A18. Tunney’s Pasture, Hurdman and Blair stations will serve as major connection points for many customers. At these key stations, there will be fare-paid zones so that customers can transfer between buses and trains quickly and easily with no need for a fare transaction. Arrival bus stops will be located adjacent to station entrances to minimize walking distances. Departure bus stops will be organized by destination using alpha-identifiers, and real-time next-bus departure information will be available on video screens.

Q19. What is a fare-paid zone?

A19. Fare-paid zones will be in place to simplify connections at Tunney’s Pasture, Hurdman and Blair stations. Customers arriving at the station by bus will be dropped off within the fare-paid zone at the station, where no further fare transaction will be required. In the afternoon, buses will load within the fare-paid zone with all doors open to ensure fast boarding at the station. Customers transferring between the Confederation Line and Trillium Line at Bayview Station will also do so within a fare-paid zone.

Q20. Will the O-Train Confederation Line be accessible?

A20. Yes, Confederation Line stations and the Alstom Citadis Spirit trains will be fully accessible.

O-Train Confederation Line stations have been designed based on universal accessibility principles. Stations will have a full range of accessibility features,
including accessible benches, backup elevators to minimize elevator disruptions, platform edge indicator strips, audible and visual announcements, and tactile direction indicator surfaces for ease of navigation.

The Alstom Citadis Spirit trains have been designed with easy access in mind. They have a 100 per cent low-floor design, which will permit easy boarding and navigation within the train. Eight cooperative seating areas for customers using mobility devices will be available on the interior of the trains adjacent to all 14 double-doors of the two-car trains. The trains will also feature: on-board audible and visual next-stop announcements; colour-contrasted grab bars; grab bars positioned throughout the train; slip-resistant, low-glare floors; and lighting at the entrances and inside the train to help with boarding and exiting.

Q21. During what hours will the O-Train Confederation Line shut down for maintenance each night? Will bus service replace the train when it shuts down overnight?

A21. The O-Train Confederation Line will shut down each night for track and car maintenance required as part of the LRT system during the following hours:

  • Monday to Thursday night, 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. the next morning;
  • Friday night, 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning;
  • Saturday night, 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning; and,
  • Sunday night, 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Monday morning.

During the nightly shutdown of the O-Train Confederation Line, train service will be replaced by select Rapid bus routes extended into downtown from the east, west and south parts of the city.

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