Wednesday, July 18, 2018

First look at the Confederation Line in motion

This was a happy accident. I was waiting for a connecting bus at the Lebreton bus stop on the Lebreton Flats when I turned around and saw that OC Transpo was testing its one west-end Citadis Spirit light rail consist near Pimisi Station.

Sadly, my bus was arriving right at the time when this trainset was pulling out of Pimisi Station (for those interested, Pimisi is an Indigenous word for the eel that is native to the Ottawa River). So, I took a few shots of the train quickly with my iPhone.

A few observations from this short view. One is that the new O-Trains sadly have the same electronic bells that their diesel cousins have on the Trillium Line. I have read complaints more than once from railfans here that the electronic bells are no match for the real thing.

In this case, this train's electronic bell was not working properly. The sound was coming out very choppy, but this is only a test run, so I'm assuming they will iron out those glitches before November, if in fact that Confederation Line is ready to begin operations. City officials in recent weeks refused to confirm the November start date for the new light rail service.

The second thing I noticed is how these trains appear to be floating or levitating. The wheels are very much shielded by the train's body, which makes for an odd site for people used to watching conventional trains.

The last thing I noticed was that I wasn't the only commuter that was taking an interest in the train's testing. There were a number of people waiting for their bus who turned around and watched the action, which is an indication that people in the city are at least curious to see this new system in action.

People in the east end of the city are likely more accustomed to seeing these trainsets undergoing testing between Blair Station and Cyrville Station, which has been happening for months. The west end of the line, as I have mentioned before, is quite a bit less developed than the east end, so testing between Tunney's Pasture and Pimisi has only begun in the last few weeks. 

I figure it be worthwhile to share these photos now, while there's still a novelty attached to this light rail line. To be honest, I don't think I will be taking many pictures of thee trains, although I will say they are growing on me. When I first saw them, I thought they were pretty ugly.

What do you think? Is this something worthy of railfanning?


Keith Boardman said...

I'll go with NO!

Despite being a railfan, I think the city would have been better off simply building a bus tunnel through downtown and saving money on the rest of the system.

There is a (at least in my opinion) a clear lack of foresight on the part of the municipality in using existing tracks and/or right of ways, which would likely have been more cost effective.

Michael said...

That's what I thought. I have long argued about the use of existing (and barely used) trackage in the city. The funniest thing is, the city's answer is always a non-answer. They say they're happy with their plan. I'd be happier with a more cost-effective system that builds on what is already there, but that's just me.

AJ said...

Agree on all points gents!

Honestly, I thought these were ugly when first proposed and I still think they are now. They haven't grown on me whatsoever. I likely will railfan them a bit but that is more a commentary on the lack of other more available options than on these trains themselves.
If we were going to go the rail route, I wish they'd have just given us a full sized GO style and been done with it (especially since I am hearing they are incredibly narrow inside). That said, I am very interested in seeing how they handle an Ottawa winter. Shielded trucks seem like a smart move, but I have to assume there will be regular buildup of slush and ice which could be a problem.

Michael said...

Lest I be misunderstood, these light rail trains are still very ugly. I guess they just don't seem as ugly as I first thought.