The vehicles will serve four of Toronto’s Transit City light rail transit (LRT) lines: the Sheppard East, Eglinton Crosstown and Etobicoke - Finch West LRTs and the Scarborough rapid transit line, after the City of Toronto and TTC have extended the line and converted it to light rail.
Today, Ontario Minister of Transportation Kathleen Wynn announced that the Province of Ontario had approved its “5 in 10” plan to build five transit projects in the Greater Toronto Area in ten years, allowing Metrolinx to proceed with buying the new vehicles.
The $770 million contract between Metrolinx and Bombardier includes an option to buy as many as118 more vehicles to a total of 300. The contract creates about 4,000 jobs in Ontario — in both the Greater Toronto Area and in Thunder Bay, where Bombardier assembles many of its light rail vehicles.
The new vehicles will exceed the Province’s requirement of 25 percent Canadian content in all transit vehicles that it funds.
On June 20, 2009, the TTC ordered 204 new light rail vehicles from Bombardier to replace the streetcars it currently operates along streets through downtown Toronto. The TTC’s order included an option to buy another 400 vehicles.
Starting last fall, the TTC and the international transit vehicle experts, LTK Engineering Services, helped Metrolinx evaluate how to supply light rail vehicles for the four Transit City lines. It decided to use the TTC’s contract option and negotiate with Bombardier.
These light rail vehicles differ in several ways from the streetcars that the TTC is buying, although buying both vehicles from the same supplier allows the TTC to exchange vehicle parts and share maintenance facilities between the two fleets.
The new TTC streetcars design have features which reflect operating on an older on-street track network in an urban environment, while the new light rail vehicles will be slightly longer and slightly wider, and have several added features.
- They operate on international standard gauge tracks, allowing Metrolinx to integrate these lines with future light rail lines outside Toronto.
- A transit agency can connect several cars together and operate them as trains of two or three vehicles.
- Passengers can board the cars from either the left or right side, like subway trains. This allows for either side-platform or island-platform layouts in stations.
- Operators can drive the cars in both directions. Each car has a driver cab at both ends and the cars do not need a loop to turn around. Operators simply walk to the opposite end of the car to drive the car in the opposite direction.
- Operators can can precisely line up the cars with the station platform, lettiing passengers using wheelchairs to board quickly and easily.
- The cars can operate in tunnels for extended distances (Much of the Eglinton Crosstown line is underground.)
- In areas where the vehicles will operate on tracks that are completely free of any other traffic — for example in the underground section of the Eglinton Crosstown line and all of the Scarborough transit line — they can operate with automatic controls.