'Thales will not be a scapegoat': Company reacts to termination from Metro LRT project
Thales, which built the signaling system for the Metro LRT line in Edmonton, says the city has terminated their involvement with the project.
According to Thales, the city escorted their employees from the work site on Thursday, April 4. Thales said they were notified by phone and mail of the termination only hours before the team was removed from the site.
“We’re not aware of what might have motivated the termination,” Thales Commercial Operations Vice President David Beckley said at a media conference on Tuesday morning. “We don’t know when, about proceeding with a different scheme, so I don’t want to speculate what might have motivated it at that time.”
After months of problems with the signaling system, the city gave the company a deadline of Dec. 4, 2018 to fix the issues.
“We’re proud that we’ve delivered. It’s been a challenge and the system is ready for service,” Beckley said in December. “We’ve reached a place where we’re very proud we’ve finished and put a system in a stage where it’s ready to go.”
Following the declaration, the city spent several months evaluating and testing the signal system.
Thales said the city conducting its own testing contrary to industry standards.
“Despite these extraordinary efforts, Thales continued to witness a fundamental lack of leadership from the City of Edmonton on this project,” said Beckley in a written release on Tuesday. “Thales will not be a scapegoat for the City’s lack of experience and understanding of CBTC systems. It is this type of challenging work environment that contributed to the failure of this infrastructure project, shortchanging Edmontonians and ultimately eroding trust in the LRT.”
Beckley said this is the first time his company has been fired from a project.
“We’ve had difficult times with customers, there have been expectations that have taken a long time to align, but where we are today is somewhere we have never been before.”
Thales said they had provided safety certificates for the system, but as a result of the city’s actions, they are now fully responsible for the maintenance, operation and training of the system, and changes might invalidate the certificates.
“To make a change at this state when we’ve run a marathon, we can see the end in sight, is going to mean more money, more time, more disruption,” Beckley said.
The company's time in Edmonton was plagued with controversy, but Beckley did not close the door to a return under different circumstances.
"If there's another opportunity under maybe a different regime in Edmonton, who knows?"
With files from CTV Edmonton's Timm Bruch