The first phase of the ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the Canadian province of Ontario has started commercial operations.

The 16km light-rail line was implemented by GrandLinq Consortium under a contract awarded in May 2014. The consortium comprises Plenary, Meridiam, Kiewit, Aecon and Keolis local subsidiary Keolis Grand River.

Keolis Grand River will operate the line for the next ten years and will be responsible for maintenance for 30 years.

ION LRT Phase I will serve the regions of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, as well as surrounding municipalities. It includes 19 stations and is expected to serve around 25,000 passengers daily.

The line will be served by 14 Bombardier-built low-floor electric light-rail vehicles (LRVs). Capable of carrying 200 passengers, these trams will operate every eight minutes during peak hours.

Regular operations on the line will be managed by a 15-employee control centre. All trams will run on dedicated rapid routes separated from regular traffic, except at intersections and road crossings, to minimise disruptions and congestions.

Keolis North America president and CEO Clément Michel said: “We began testing and commissioning the trams and control centre in July 2017.

“Now, with responsibility for operating and maintaining the ION LRT for Region of Waterloo, we’re looking forward to enhancing quality of life in the region for many years to come.”

The overall ION LRT project has been divided into two phases, with Phase II studies currently underway.

Keolis operates 25 tram networks around the world, including 14 in France and two under construction networks in Qatar and Denmark.

In January, Shanghai Keolis, its joint venture (JV) with Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, started operating the first section of the Songjiang tram line in China.