Edmonton’s Valley Line Southeast has reached a major milestone. The final of 26 light rail vehicles have arrived at the Southside rail garage known as the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility. Yes, it’s amazing that this building seen from Whitemud Drive at 66 Street can fit that many vehicles under its roof.
These Bombardier Flexity light rail vehicles can hold up to 275 people and can be coupled together as a two-car unit during peak hours – the length of Valley Line platforms – for a max capacity of 550 passengers.
As previewed at Bonnie Doon Centre in early and mid 2018, and Mill Woods Town Centre in fall 2019, these light rail vehicles will be a little different than our current LRT system. While our current system uses high floor light rail vehicles, valley line uses at-grade low floor vehicles which are used around the world in as contemporary urban people movers.
Low floor vehicles bring in many benefits, including many for users. Curb level platforms mean that commuters will be able to hop on and off easily from street level. Add in dedicated spaces for people with reduced mobility, seniors, pregnant women, and cyclists, and you have a truly versatile mode of transport for cosmopolitan life. The leaning stands are a great addition to the design.
With the versatility of low floor vehicles, TransEd categorizes the Valley Line as an ‘urban integrated rail.’ This means that the line is designed within the elements where it functions. While it travels through community streets, the on-street design means there is no need for fences, gates, nor bells as the street is already designed for moving traffic.
The curb-level boarding allows stops to be designed similar to bus shelters. But unlike Seattle where trains share stops with buses, and different from the Portland Max and Toronto Transit Commission streetcars which share the line with other vehicular traffic, Valley Line will have a dedicated raised rail bed as it travels alongside moving traffic. With a partial priority system, the train will stop to allow traffic to cross at major intersections to reduce the impact it has on traffic like Capital and Metro Lines do. Train operators will likewise be driving using line-of-sight, and follow posted speed limits of the road.
The Downtown Seattle Tunnel is shared by Link light rail and SoundTransit buses. TTC streetcars in Toronto and only has right of way when boarding. The MAX is integrated with traffic in Downtown Portland.
Edmonton’s Valley Line Southeast will run from Mill Woods south terminus on 28 Avenue northbound along 13 kilometre line through Avonmore, Bonnie Doon, and Strathearn before looping around Connors Hill across the North Saskatchewan River on the Tawatinâ Bridge, tunnelling up the Quarters, and finally arriving into downtown at 102 St on 102 Ave in front of the old Holt Renfrew.
A new LRV testing beside Mill Woods Golf Course. A new LRV in Woodvale with Tawa in the background.
Note: This article is not sponsored, but was created as a collaboration with TransEd. Information and images (where noted) were supplied by TransEd.