News outlets this week are reporting that city staff has put together a plan to extend the existing 8-km line to the EY Centre on Uplands Drive and to the Ottawa airport on a spur, before stretching the service to Riverside South. This would allow the city to reach several heavily populated neighbourhoods in the south end of the city, not to mention two busy hubs (EY Centre and airport) that would greatly benefit from a rail link to the downtown core, even if it is via Bayview Station at the moment.
Southbound O-Train makes its way toward Gladstone Avenue in September 2013.
The cost of this expansion is $99 million without the airport spur, which would be extra. Staff is also not sure how the spur would work with the overall line, but it is surely a step in the right direction when the city realizes that a light rail line that passes through airport lands should serve the airport. You will remember from earlier posts that the city was ready to explore this expansion minus an airport connection since it was not along the direct path of the rail line.
Readers will know that this extended service will operate on existing trackage that was once part of the Canadian Pacific's Prescott Subdivision. This trackage still stretches as far as Leitrim Road, on the southern edge of the airport lands. Part of this right-of-way is still used by CN to deliver cars to the National Research Centre's transportation research facilities on Lester Road. The line would then have to be extended on the former CP right-of-way south of Leitrim Road. This stretch of the line was torn up in 1999 and replaced with what is known as the Osgoode Link Pathway recreational trail.
Amazing isn't it? Two years before the city started operating its O-Train line in 2001, it had the potential to retain a large portion of the CP right-of-way and didn't see the need to do so. Well, I guess 14 years late is better than never, even if the city now has to pay a great deal more to relay ballast and tracks.
This expansion plan is part of a rebranding of the existing O-Train line. It will now be known as the Trillium Line. When the city's east-west line is completed in 2017, it will be dubbed the Confederation Line. The overall system will be known as the O-Train.
In related news, it appears the new Alstom Coradia LINT light rail trains will make their debut on the Trillium line in late February or early March. You can see a shot of them in Walkley Yard in this post. These new trainsets will allow the line to accommodate a more efficient schedule, which would see trains operate at a frequency of eight to nine minutes instead of the current 12 to 15 minutes. I'm not sure if this means the Bombardier trains will be phased out at that time. I guess it might be time to get some last shots of these trains, just in case.