Friday, June 8, 2018

Spring observations in Ottawa

As the city’s Confederation Line light rail system lumbers toward completion, there remains a flurry of activity at a number of points along the line. I recently took a stroll along the tracks just west of the downtown, to see what was happening.

The first site I saw was the exposed western tunnel entrance. This is the first time I saw the tunnel entrance, which has been covered until very recently. Over the course of the early spring, the final tie clips were fastened into place, thus completing the Confederation Line from Blair Station in the east with Tunney’s Pasture Station in the west.
At Bayview Station, where the Confederation Line crosses over the existing Trillium Line, workers were busy with a number of tasks, including extending the Trillium Line beneath the Confederation Line flyover. This is an interesting job, since Bayview Station remains at the centre of a dispute between the City of Ottawa and the group calling itself the Moose Consortium.

As you have read here before, Moose has been battling the city over use of the Prince of Wales Bridge, which once connected the old Canadian Pacific Ellwood Subdivision with the CP trackage in Quebec, including the Maniwaki and Lachute Subs. The Trillium Line has been disconnected from the bridge for several years, as you saw in this photo I took in 2013.
More recently, when work began on Bayview Station, a portion of the trackage leading the the bridge was covered over by consruction. Moose, which has goals of establishing some sort of regional commuter rail service in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, challenged the city before federal authorities. Moose has long argued that the city cannot simply sever this trackage from the O-Train line without proceeding with discontinuance of service paperwork with the Canadian Transportation Agency. The city has argued that has long-term plans for the old rail bridge.

Whatever the outcome, the city cannot deny that, even recently, it had money set aside to convert the bridge into a recreational pathway. The city also cannot claim that has done much to maintain the bridge. The CTA recently sided with Moose, meaning it agreed with the group’s position that the city cannot sever the rail line over the Ottawa River from its Trillium Line without going through a discontuance process. The city is appealing that decision. At the very least, it appears that the tracks laid beneath the Confederation Line could very easily link back up with the trackage leading the bridge. I doubt that was the reason why the tracks were laid there, but it at least raises the possibility that the city might finally get serious about using the bridge for commuter rail.
Speaking of the Prince of Wales Bridge, the rusting old relic found itself as the centre of attention briefly during the early days of the Ontario provincial election. A group of local Liberals made an announcement that they would support any efforts to extend the city’s light rail system over the bridge. This announcement made me roll my eyes for several reasons. First, it seems strange to me pledge support for an extension of this system over the river at a time when this potential part of the light rail system is not an immediate priority. I also laugh whenever the city begins the trumpet the fact that the province is chipping in on the light rail system, as if the money is coming from some other taxpayer. Message to politicians: the city taxpayer, the provincial taxpayer and the federal taxpayer are all the same people.
For those who are following the progress of the Confederation Line, you may have noticed that a complete trainset has been sitting on the tracks near Tunney’s Pasture Station for weeks. The trainset is being guarded around the clock, even though the tracks at this point are in a deep cut. I suspect that those living near this end of the line will soon be seeing test runs. Most of the testing that has happened so far is happening near Belfast Yard on the east end of the line.
I did manage to take some time to get a few shots of the Trillium Line recently, including this meet between two diesel powered trainsets near Somerset Street. As anyone who takes the bus in Ottawa knows, the Trillium Line has been numbered “Line 2” while the Confederation has been numbered “Line 1.” I find this a bit odd, since the city went to great trouble to rebrand the original O-Train line as the Trillium Line. Now, if you are on a city bus nearing Bayview Station, you will hear the automated public address system announce “Bayview Station, O-Train Line 2.” I wonder if this will confuse anyone who have come to know the original O-Train line as the Trillium Line.

Oh well, at least all this activity has given us something to talk about.


C.Flat said...

Bayview Station was moved slightly when they tore down the old transitway bridge so the rails being laid now are just to move it back to its original location

AJ said...

I rolled my eyes as well. The one thing that annoyed me to no end was all this talk about expanded heavy rail and GO service in the GTA and to London and St. Catherines. Sure thats all and great....but where the hell is our GO style heavy rail system here in Eastern Ontario????? Seems like no one wants to talk about it and that the City's light rail is the only answer to transit problems here.
I know I have ranted about this before, but its getting frustrating seeing someone like the Moose group stand up and propose something useful, exciting and proven, only to see them pushed back upon at every opportunity - which is the exact opposite experience everywhere else.

Michael said...

Thanks for the comments, gents. I won't offer any further comment on the lack of action with the Prince of Wales Bridge or the ongoing fight with Moose. All I will say is that I hope this determined group motivates the city to do something with this bridge.