By Andrew Grahl and Raymond Mercado/photos as noted
On Saturday, September 14, 2019, Phase 1 of North America’s newest electric light-rail line opened in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. OC Transpo inaugurated the C$2.1 billion (USD $1.6 billion), 7.8-mile(12.5-km), east-west Confederation Line, which features 13 stations, nine above and four below ground. The new line is designated O-Train Line 1, with the original north-south diesel light-rail Trillium Line now called Line 2. The Confederation Line runs in a 1.6-mile long tunnel directly under Queen Street through the central business district of Ottawa. The line was built mostly on what was OC Transpo’s Transitway, a grade-separated Bus Rapid Transit line now replaced by electric light-rail. The Confederation Line returns electric traction to Ottawa for the first time since trolleys were retired in May 1959.
The opening day ceremony was held in the mezzanine of the Tunney’s Pasture terminal at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Unlike many recent opening ceremonies, the Confederation Line inaugural ceremony was by invitation only. With many dignitaries and invited guests in attendance, ceremony speakers included Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney. Immediately following the celebration, guests were escorted to the platform where Alstom Citadis Spirit cars 1126 and 1123 were used for the ceremonial first trip. The line opened to the general public a few hours later at 2:00 p.m.
An eastbound Confederation Line test train, led by Alstom Citadis Spirit 1130, is photographed departing Lees station on Friday, September 13, 2019. This station and right-of-way was part of the OC Transpo Bus Transitway until 2016, when it was closed for light-rail construction. This view is taken from the Lees Avenue overpass. Andrew Grahl photo
“Today marks a long-anticipated, memorable day in our city. Ottawa has officially opened its light-rail transit system. Confederation Line will make our city more connected than ever before,” as tweeted by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
Confederation Line construction began in 2013. Trains are operated by the local transit provider, OC Transpo. A public-private partnership was established with the Rideau Transit Group with a 30-year contract to design, build, finance and maintain the line. As with many light-rail lines, opening day was delayed several times due to many different issues. The Confederation Line was scheduled to open in 2017, which would have coincided with the national celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation, hence the name…