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A Kitchener ION stop -
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15 April 2018
The Trains Are Running Late

Waterloo Ontario - Half of me was shocked, angry, and disappointed when the news broke Friday afternoon that light rail transit, or should we start calling it late rail transit, will be delayed by at least eight more months.
 
The other half said, "Of course."
 
Not because I am clairvoyant, but because some of my regular readers are a lot smarter than I am, and were warning me against my optimistic outlook.
 
Bill McAndrew laid it all out for me in an email last November, which he titled, "Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid."
 
"Bombardier has delivered one tin can and one train that is taking months to get working. The next two are delayed," he advised.
 
"Yes, the system will be fully operational by spring, if you mean spring 2019."
 
I thought he was just being cranky.
 
But now I take my hat off to you, Bill.
 
You were right.
 
There are 14 trains that are expected from the manufacturer, Bombardier.
 
But there were delays from the start, and we were not the only community affected.
 
The first vehicle arrived in February 2017, six months after it was promised.
 
Since then, only three more vehicles have come to Waterloo Region.
 
The rest aren't ready to ship.
 
We can't just start putting passengers in these trains as they get here.
 
They have to be tested with the systems that control traffic signals, and provide passengers with vehicle arrival times, among other things.
 
Each train also has to complete 600 kilometres of reliable travel before the vehicle receives its final seal of approval.
 
Even the four that have arrived have not completed their final tests.
 
Here is the fateful sentence on the second page of a report to regional councillors that was released on Friday:
 
"The original project schedule included eight months of testing and commissioning following the delivery of the last vehicle."
 
The last vehicle isn't here yet.
 
The report says it will arrive in June, and now suggests testing and commissioning can be squeezed into six months.
 
Based on the deadlines that have already been missed, and the lack of detail on how you can safely skip a couple of months of testing, I'm not holding my breath.
 
Meanwhile, why would any marketing expert agree to unveil a new train in the dead of winter?
 
It's important that it be used once it starts running.
 
People will be much more likely to try it out in spring, when waiting for a train doesn't mean an eyeful of sleet.
 
The project started off with high hopes and good intentions.
 
It's had many benefits that are already being felt, like a couple of billion dollars' worth of development around the line.
 
Regional Chair Ken Seiling said Bombardier was chosen, in part, because the trains would be made in Canada, by Canadians.
 
But not in their wildest dreams did he or others think the delays would be so severe.
 
"These cars were supposed to be here a year and a half ago," he said.
 
"It was a Canadian company that let us down."
 
Meanwhile, Bill suggests that this isn't even the end of the schedule snafus.
 
Here's his latest prediction:
 
"Bombardier will deliver the last car 1 Sep 2018, at best. It will in fact, take the Region eight months after that, which gets us until May 2019. But something will not go smoothly. Add two months. A Canada Day 2019 opening!"
 
I bet he's right.
 
Luisa D'Amato.

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