The City of Edmonton has issued a Termination Notice to Thales, ending a relationship of more than seven years with the company contracted to provide the signalling system for the Metro Line LRT.
The move clears the way for the completion and installation of an alternative signalling plan for the line, the safe choice of more than 34,000 passengers every day.
Terminating a contract like this is not one we take lightly,” said City Manager Linda Cochrane. “This is not the outcome we wanted. It was in all of our best interests, for the City of Edmonton, for Thales and for Edmontonians to get the signalling system that we hired Thales to deliver.
“But at some point, we had to call it.”
Cochrane made the remarks to reporters at a media conference at City Hall. Watch Cochrane’s remarks, an opening statement by Mayor Don Iveson, and a question-and-answer session with reporters and Adam Laughlin, Deputy City Manager, Integrated Infrastructure Services, all from start to finish, here.
Mayor Don Iveson also spoke at the media conference.
“There’s ample evidence to support this termination decision and it is a decision that City Council unanimously supports,” said Iveson.
Cochrane said that nothing about the announcement has changed the fact that for Metro Line passengers, taking the line to school, to work, for errands, for shopping is a safe way to move in the city.
“Terminating Thales will not change Metro Line operations today or tomorrow,” said Cochrane.
“We have started work on an alternative signalling plan that will replace the Thales system,” said Cochrane. “For now, the Metro Line will continue to operate safely using the signalling system we have been using in its current capacity since the line opened in 2015, with the additional supports that ETS staff will provide.
The Metro Line trains will keep running, and the LRT will keep moving Edmontonians around their city.
April 9, 2019, is the latest key date in the Metro Line timeline.
September 6, 2015: Metro Line opens using an incomplete Thales signalling system which requires speed and other operating restrictions.
May 1, 2018: The City of Edmonton issued Thales a Notice of Default, giving the company the opportunity to indicate how it intended to meet the conditions laid out by Council in a December 2017 motion that set April 30, 2018, as the deadline for completion of the Metro Line signalling system.
December 4, 2018: The date Thales committed to complete their signalling work.
May 1, 2018 to December 4, 2018: Thales worked towards contract completion. City of Edmonton provided support, staff support and testing opportunities, including several system-wide LRT closures.
December 5, 2018 – April 4, 2019 — City of Edmonton thoroughly evaluates what Thales provided on December 4, 2018, including by testing the signalling system in the field without passengers.
April 4, 2019 – Termination Notice issued to Thales under the contract.
“Our evaluation determined that Thales has not met their contractual obligations,” said Cochrane. “The signalling system they provided on December 4 was not ready, and it was not reliable.”
The City’s field tests found the system Thales delivered on December 4 couldn’t keep trains on schedule in spite of manual intervention from ETS staff. The system delayed trains at stations. It also caused trains to stop suddenly.
“These sorts of issues shouldn’t be showing up in a signalling system that is supposed to be complete and ready,” said Cochrane. “So, after more than five years of delays, it is clear that Thales cannot deliver the signalling system that we were promised.”
Cochrane said the City had proposed to Thales that the termination notice remain confidential so that both sides could try to work out a settlement, but Thales’s decision to go public on Tuesday April 9 forced the City’s hand.
The City released the official letter sent to Thales.
Cochrane said: “Between May and December, our staff did whatever it took to help Thales get their work done.
“At midnight, on weekends, our engineers were always beside theirs. Edmontonians helped do this work, too. Numerous tests were conducted. There were also system-wide closures of the LRT which affected all Edmontonians. And there were several other rounds of tests outside operating hours.”
The City awarded Thales the contract for the Metro signalling system in May, 2011. The contract was worth $55 million. $33 million has been paid for contractual milestones that have been met; $22 million has been withheld.
The Mayor said the City will now “vigorously defend the interests of Edmontonians through the legal process that will unfold from here.”