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Project Spotlight: O-Train South Extension Testing & Training

Image - Project Spotlight: O-Train South Extension Testing & Training

Pictured above: A Stadler FLIRT at the Albion Yard Maintenance & Storage Facility

If you’ve been near the future O-Train Line 2 and Line 4, you have most likely seen trains travelling between Bayview and Limebank stations, and South Keys and Airport stations. This new system will forever transform transit in our city bringing the O-Train network within steps of major destinations and amenities.

Years of planning are now being put to the test. We’re in an exciting stage of the project where we’re testing vehicles and training staff to help them become more familiar with our new system.

The Next Stop Blog team is here to explain the work accomplished to date, what we’re testing, and how staff are being trained around the clock to operate this new system.

What is the O-Train South Extension?

The O-Train South Extension will add 16 kilometres of new rail and 13 new stations to the O-Train system. Line 2 will be extended to run from Bayview Station to Limebank Station. Line 4 is a newly constructed rail link that will connect South Keys Station with the Ottawa International Airport.

This new system will be served by two types of vehicles: the new Stadler FLIRT, and the refurbished Alstom LINT which previously operated on Line 2.

Stadler FLIRT trains will nearly double the capacity of Line 2. This train model is used in 21 countries, from the Arctic Circle to Africa. The trains are 81.1 m long and can carry 420 passengers. The trains were built in Stadler's Swiss factory and shipped to Ottawa for final checks. We’ve been testing trains along Line 2 since 2022.

While not technically new, the LINT trains will operate on Line 4, connecting passengers from Line 2 at South Keys Station to the Airport, stopping at Uplands Station and the EY Centre along the way. LINTs will sometimes be coupled together and run on Line 2 as well.

Enhancements to all existing Line 2 stations have included the reconstruction and lengthening of platforms to 77 metres in order to accommodate the longer Stadler trains and two-car trains of the Alstom vehicles. Additionally, the signage, lighting and communications systems will also be upgraded at these stations.

All Line 2 and 4 vehicles will be stored and maintained at the new Albion Yard Maintenance and Storage Facility. This new facility is a LEED certified facility and will include heavy maintenance bays, train storage and administration offices. It will also include a washing station, fuelling area, inspection pits, as well as storage tracks.

In addition, this project includes operational enhancements that will strengthen service and provide more system flexibility to overcome minor delays and quicker recovery times. Key enhancements include:

  • Lengthening existing passing sidings at Gladstone, Carleton and Brookfield
  • Providing extensive portions of new double-track in the southern extension between Leitrim and Limebank Stations
  • Providing two-track terminal stations at both Bayview and Limebank
  • Grade separation at the Ellwood Diamond allowing VIA trains to pass below Line 2 with no impact to service.

To learn more about the O-Train South Extension, visit the project website.

Vehicle Testing

Testing of the FLIRT and LINT trains is nearing completion with the vehicles primarily being used to train staff and validate other system components such as the signaling system.

While the LINTs were previously in service on Line 2, our seven new FLIRT trains were manufactured in Switzerland and arrived in Ottawa in October 2021. Vehicle testing kicked off with testing individual components in isolation while the vehicles were stationary. Before the vehicles began running on completed portions of the system, we tested doors, HVAC, and other on-board systems. The next step was to begin testing other components such as the vehicles’ acceleration, braking, signaling integration, and audio and visual announcements with the train in motion. As construction of the new system advanced, vehicle testing ramped up to higher speeds and allowed us to validate how the train would operate under future operations.

Work has progressed to now allow us to operate vehicles seven days a week, providing additional opportunities to train staff and identify solutions that will help us achieve a reliable system. This phase is critical to identifying and correcting issues well before the line opens for service.

We are running the trains as frequently as possible to identify reliability and performance issues with trains, systems and processes. There have been nine trains running since the beginning of 2024 which has been helpful in identifying issues with the train control system, vehicle performance, and infrastructure performance. Our team is monitoring progress to make sure the system is working reliably and consistently, so we can meet our future performance and service goals with confidence.

Text description

O-Train Line 2 Bayview to Limebank Station text description
Time Text description
00:00 - 00:30 The video is recorded from the front of the train. It begins with the O-Train at South Keys Station, traveling towards the Airport Station. The train is seen departing from the station, moving smoothly along the tracks. The surroundings include station platforms, some construction material, and station signage.
00:30 - 01:00 The train continues its journey, passing through a scenic area with greenery and open spaces. The train makes a stop at Uplands Station. The station is seen to be under construction nearing completion.
01:00 - 01:30 The train departs from Uplands Station and moves through more urban infrastructure. It shows the train tracks winding as it travels towards Airport Station.
01:30 - 01:46 The train arrives at the Airport Station. The video shows the train slowing down and approaching the platform. There are views of the station's architecture, platform, and airport-related signage. The segment ends with the train coming to a complete stop at the platform.

Text description

O-Train Line 4 South Keys to Airport Station text description
Time Text description
00:00 - 00:30 The video is recorded from the front of the train. The video begins with the O-Train at Bayview station. The train is seen departing from the station, moving smoothly along the tracks. The surroundings include station platform and station signage. The sky is clear, and the weather appears pleasant.
00:30 - 01:00 The train continues its journey, passing through an area with some greenery and urban infrastructure. There are glimpses of trees and buildings in the background. The train moves steadily along the tracks, showcasing the initial part of the journey and arriving at Corso Italia. A train is seen traveling in the opposite direction on the other set of tracks.
01:00 - 01:30 The video continues to show the journey from the front of the train and passes by various urban infrastructures such as roads and bridges. The video captures the train’s movement through these urban settings, including traveling through a tunnel, highlighting the integration of the train line with the cityscape and arrives at Dow’s Lake Station.
01:30 - 01:40 The journey continues and the video captures the train’s smooth movement along the tracks, with clear views of the surroundings.
01:40 - 01:50 The train approaches and stops at Carleton Station. This station features modern design elements. The train comes to a stop at the station before departing again.
01:50 – 02:10 The train leaves Carleton Station and moves towards the next part of the journey. The scenery includes more urban infrastructure, with buildings, roads, and bridges visible as the train moves along the tracks.
02:10 - 02:20 The train continues through a mix of urban and semi-urban landscapes. There are views of various infrastructures, including commercial areas and public spaces, as the train progresses on its route arriving at Mooney’s Bay Station.
02:20 - 02:30 The train journey continues, and the video captures the peaceful landscape and the train’s smooth movement through this section.
02:30 - 02:50 The journey continues with the train arriving at Walkley Station. The video shows the modern architecture of the station.
02:50 - 03:10 The train approaches Greenboro Station, featuring modern architecture and station signage.
03:10 - 03:50 After departing Greenboro Station, the train moves through a mix of urban and natural landscapes. The video captures the transition between these different areas as the train continues its journey arriving at South Keys Station. The video shows the station platform including Transecure areas for customers to use.
03:50 - 04:40 The video shows the train journey continuing with more natural landscapes. The train approaches Leitrim Station and the video shows the station platform. Another train is seen approaching in the opposite direction on the other set of tracks.
04:40 - 05:30 The train journey continues through more natural features and is seen arriving at Bowesville Station. The train platform is visible, including its modern architecture.
05:30 - 06:22 The train arrives at the final destination, Limebank Station. The video shows the train slowing down and approaching the platform. There are views of the station’s architecture and signage. The segment ends with the train coming to a complete stop at the platform.

Training & Familiarization

There are many staff who will operate and monitor Line 2 and Line 4:

  • Diesel Rail Operators (DROs) will drive the trains on the new system.
  • Diesel Rail Controllers (DRCs) will monitor train movements in the Transit Operations Control Centre.
  • Diesel Rail Supervisors (DRS) will monitor operations, troubleshoot issues, and provide on-the-ground support to DROs and other staff that play a critical role in ensuring your journey is smooth.

Staff working in these positions are currently gaining experience operating the system by putting plans and procedures into practice. Testing and commissioning is a chance for them to meet their training requirements.

Before our DROs can get in the driver seat of a FLIRT or LINT train, they undergo in-class training. This includes learning about operating procedures and completing exercises on our train simulator. Staff will complete more than four weeks of classroom exercises and rules training before they even step foot on a train.

Once they graduate from in-class training, they then proceed to on-the-job training of operating a vehicle on the new system alongside an instructor. As they achieve the necessary training hours and complete various exercises, they can then proceed to operate a vehicle on their own to gain additional experience, practice emergency drills, and familiarize themselves with standard operating procedures. In total, we are training up to 70 DROs who will each have to complete 150 hours of on-the-job training after completing over a month of in-class rules training. With vehicles operating on the system seven days a week, our window for operators in training to achieve more hours operating trains has significantly increased.

In addition, our maintenance contractor will also need to practice cleaning, refuelling, and inspecting trains during the overnight period. We are validating their processes as they undertake maintenance at Albion Yard Maintenance and Storage Facility.

Recently, the expanded Line 2 and Line 4 have been integrated into the Transit Operations Control Centre (TOCC). The operations of all our rail lines, bus and Para Transpo service are connected by the TOCC. This new integration has allowed our DRCs to test the systems and processes that will ensure safe train movements on Line 2 and Line 4 while ensuring they are integrated with the rest of the OC Transpo network.

Finally, we are also using this time to allow emergency responders to complete exercises and familiarization tours with the new system. To date, we’ve conducted hundreds of exercises and drills. To learn more about this, read our Project Spotlight Stage 2 Emergency Responder training article.

Completing staff training is a major milestone in the preparations for opening the system. Once completed, it will help provide a clearer picture of when we can move to the next phase of the project.

What can I expect next?

We're getting closer to launching the system. We are testing the system, training staff, and completing final construction activities. Once these tasks are complete, we will enter the next phase where the trains operate on the new tracks to build up and assess performance, safety and reliability.

Pathway to passenger service

Pathway to passenger service

Click the image above for a closer look.

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