“The most important thing is we are making systematic progress,” said Verster during an unrelated provincial fare integration announcement. “I will not open the service up if it’s not safe and reliable. That has got a long difficult history to then get fixed afterwards. We’ll make sure the system works well, works to our satisfaction that TTC crews are familiar with the trains, that everyone’s happy to roll it out and then we’ll open it.”
The consortium building the 19-kilometre rail line is Crosslinx Transit Solutions. Verster said the contractor, their subcontractors and Alstom are making “really good progress.”
“When we were at our media event in November/December we very openly declared the five work streams and we are tracking really well against that,” Verster explained.
“System integration tests, which is the most important, was around 15 per cent in November. It’s now, last week, at 28 per cent. The physical construction and the road works at Yonge and Eglinton is significantly complete. Most importantly, occupancy permits, which is the third or fourth work stream, 40 of those are required, we now have 23 and 10 of those are for the biggest underground stations and the most important ones.”
The project, which began in 2011, has faced significant delays over the years. Although Metrolinx said opening dates for the line were expected to be released by the end of summer 2023, at the end of September, Verster announced he could not commit to a solid timeline until issues with the system are rectified.
Issues still exist.
“The bit I’m worried about is the signalling and train control system which needs a couple of software releases to iron out software, let’s call it wrinkles, that will get the system to the right place,” said Verster. “We are going to do what we said we’re going to do and that is we’ll declare an opening date three months in advance of the first services running.
“We are all hard at work to bring this program to a close and we won’t guess beforehand. We’ve got a good understanding. We are working really closely with our colleagues. Rick (Leary CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission) and the TTC have been extremely constructive, collaborative and helpful to get us there.”