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Carleton engineers envision Ottawa-Gatineau train route

The train would cross over the Ottawa River via the Prince of Wales Bridge, just west of LeBreton Flats. (Photo by Oliver Sachgau)

Engineering students at Carleton have proposed a light rail project to connect Ottawa and Gatineau.

The light rail transit (LRT) system was designed as a final-year engineering project by four undergraduate civil engineering students and will soon be submitted to an engineering contest for a $5,000 prize.

The proposal is to replace the long bus route between the two cities.

The LRT the team envisions would travel between Bayview Station in Ottawa and Station Montcalm in Gatineau, with one stop at Taché-UQO station in Gatineau, said team member Lana El-Haddad.

She said the train would cross over the Ottawa River via the Prince of Wales Bridge, just west of LeBreton Flats.

Team member Sara Akkaoui said since the bridge already has train tracks, previously used for heavier freight trains, it would work well for the LRT.

The bridge would need to be inspected to find out what needs to be renovated and ensure the geometry of the tracks correspond with the train, she said.

Team member Thierry Green said the LRT system would have two trains crossing at one point of the route.

That point, Green said, would work similarly to how the O-Train works at Carleton.

“It wouldn’t be a stop. They’d just go slowly and pass each other and then keep going,” he said.

Team member Khalid Mahmoud said the project is feasible, as Ottawa and Gatineau have considered similar projects before, but there have been challenges.

“There were jurisdiction issues,” he said. “They weren’t sure who was going to run it—is OC Transpo going to run it, or is the STO?”

Benefits to replacing bus routes with LRTs include reducing pollution, saving money in fuel and drivers’ salaries, faster commuting, and alleviating traffic in downtown Ottawa, according to the team.

Akkaoui said despite these benefits, Canada is behind in LRT technology compared to countries in Europe.

“People are not looking in terms of long-term benefits, which is what the light rail train will ultimately achieve,” she said.

An increasing population in the National Capital Region would benefit from a train system, Mahmoud said.

“Most of the employment will happen in Ottawa, so people may live in Gatineau . . . and work in Ottawa,” he said.

The same would be true for students, who he said could live in Gatineau where real estate prices tend to be cheaper, and commute to school in Ottawa.

The team said for the remaining months of class they will focus on the final steps of the project, which mainly include making a program simulation of the LRT system.

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