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Toronto's LRVs - Other Possible Contenders

Text by James Bow

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Around 2005, when it became clear that the TTC would soon have to replace its fleet of CLRV and ALRV streetcars, the TTC put out some early feelers on finding a replacement vehicle. Although no such vehicle was immediately selected, this didn’t stop Toronto’s railfans from speculating on what the next Toronto streetcar would be.

Many railfans debated that, after relying on the home-grown UTDC/Bombardier-built CLRVs for almost thirty years, it benefited the TTC to consider purchasing an off-the-shelf model. The CLRVs and the ALRVs were almost custom built for the TTC, being the first vehicles of their kind, and designed with the TTC’s unique characteristics in mind, as well as proposals in the 1970s to use these vehicles as the basis for the proposed Scarborough LRT. The result, railfans argued, produced a streetcar that was idiosyncratic, expensive to maintain, and heavy. The streetcar/LRV construction industry had evolved considerably since the 1970s, so perhaps there would be benefit to buying a model that was common to other cities, so the TTC could reap the rewards of wider availability of parts and maintenance plans.

The TTC’s unique characteristics (its tight turning circles) and the demand by local politicians that an entirely low-floor vehicle be purchased (as opposed to a partially low-floor vehicle, which was readily available) forced the TTC to turn to Bombardier for a significant modification of the railcar-manufacturing company’s Flexity design. In the meantime, below is a gallery of some of the off-the-shelf models that were available at the time, that the TTC could perhaps have purchased if circumstances had been different.

Other Possible Contenders


Tatra’s RT6N (above). Partial low floor, three-section, fast. It carries more passengers than an ALRV and weighs less. This image of a RT6N operating in Brno, Czech Republic is courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Tatra’s single-section T6A5 flies along private right-of-way in this Creative Commons image by Honza Groh. Some railfans argued that the TTC should abandon articulated streetcars for shorter, single-section models like these. These would be easier to maintain and force the TTC to increase frequencies along streetcar routes.

Bombardier Schematics

This is the schematic of the Low-Floor Street-Tram 8NGTW, also known as the Kassel car, which was considered as a possible ALRV replacement back in 2005. Image donated by Dr. Heribert Menzel, and appears on his web site.

Kassel car showing low-floor construction

Here is a Kassel in operation. Heribert Menzel’s shot illustrates the low floor construction of the tram. With the wheels just over 30 centimetres in diameter, these vehicles do not have the huge wheel-wells which waste so much space in low-floor buses in Canada.

Kassel car rounds curve

Another Kassel car rounds a curve. The Kassels have two bendable sections whereas Toronto’s ALRV bends in only one place. However, the Kassel’s bends do not appear to be as flexible as the ALRV’s. The ALRV’s minimum radius is 36 feet, whereas the Kassel can only manage 50 feet. Modifications may be needed before Kassels run on Toronto’s streets. This shot was also taken by Heribert Menzel. You are invited to visit his web site where more photographs are available.