Cheers could be heard coming from the train as it pulled out of the 102nd Street Station Saturday morning. Hundreds of people lined up bright and early to be one of the first to catch the Valley Line Southeast LRT inaugural run at 5:15 a.m.
The long-delayed line finally opened to Edmonton passengers nearly three years after it was originally supposed to.
“We wanted to be on this party train,” said Dan Spence. Spence and his wife brought their three-year-old daughter along for the ride because they feel it’s important to teach her about public transit.
“It’s just really exciting to be part of the first ride on the Valley Line, it’s been highly anticipated,” said Sara Spence.
The 13-kilometre southeast leg of the Valley Line is part of the first stage of construction and connects Mill Woods to the downtown core. The southeast leg includes 11 stops.
The line had been scheduled to open in December 2020 but has faced multiple delays, including cracks in piers that support the elevated portion of the track and the need for signaling cables to be replaced.
The Valley Line was built through a public-private partnership and TransEd is the private industry consortium contracted to build and operate the southeast leg. TransEd is responsible for any costs incurred because of delays and is only entitled to be paid 50 per cent of the total construction contract value prior to the line opening. Once open, TransEd will receive a payment equal to 16.7 per cent of the construction value.
In a statement last month, TransEd said the southeast leg “has been independently certified by professional engineers, a safety auditor and an independent — professionally qualified — certifier.”
“This has been a long journey, with challenges and detours, but we’re confident in the system we’ve built,” said TransEd Partners CEO Ronald Joncas. “Our focus has always been, and will continue to be, delivering a safe, reliable system to Edmontonians.
Despite the delays, Edmontonians are happy to see the trains finally running.
“I’ve just been really excited about it. I mean they started construction on it when I was kid,” said passenger Ethan Woodruff. “I wasn’t expecting there to be completely full train cars, front to back. When we got off at the last stop everyone was chanting LRT.”
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