Like the belle of the ball, the single car emerged from the cavernous Eglinton Maintenance and Service Facility (ESMF) in Mount Dennis to enjoy its moment in the spotlight amid a crowd of journalists, photographers and representatives of Metrolinx, Bombardier and government. Some attendees briefly applauded the car's debut.
Metrolinx chief executive officer Phil Verster acknowledged that he and his team, collaborating closely with Bombardier, had managed to overcome early issues to assure timely delivery of the cars. Testing the cars is a major milestone in the project timeline, since the first few cars for the line are already in place, even though the official opening is more than two years away (in September 2021).
Metrolinx had planned to impose financial penalties on Bombardier after the train maker delivered only half of the six vehicles it promised for the line by its contract deadline of February 1.
In a statement then, Verster told the Canadian Press, "Our contract clearly outlines financial penalties on Bombardier for delivering vehicles late. Metrolinx will enforce the contract and the financial penalties will be applied." However, Bombardier successfully delivered the rest of the first batch of cars by February 16.
In 2010, Metrolinx signed a $770 million contract with Bombardier to produce 182 train sets for the Crosstown and other light rail transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It ordered 76 Flexity Freedom cars for Eglinton and 23 for Finch. (The Freedom cars are wider versions of the Flexity Outlook streetcars that Bombardier is providing for the TTC. They are also capable of faster speeds.) Under the terms of the original contract, Bombardier would have started delivering the vehicles in 2018.
In May 2017, the regional transportation agency announced it had entered into an agreement with Alstom, a French company, to build 17 Citadis Spirit light rail trains that will carry passengers along the future Finch line. It also named Alstom as a potential alternative supplier of 44 light rail vehicles for the Crosstown project. However, Metrolinx has now committed to Bombardier as the sole provider of Crosstown cars.
David van der Wee of Bombardier acknowledged his company's previously poor reputation that it had developed from its handling of other transit projects in Toronto (notably, the TTC's cars), but said that his firm has improved its production systems to now be able to assure timely delivery of vehicles. He noted that Bombardier employs 6,500 Ontarians and that 2,700 of those are dedicated to transportation products including Flexity cars for Metrolinx and the TTC and GO Transit's bi-level train coaches.
Metrolinx will operate the cars "in tandem" along the 19-kilometre line between Mount Dennis and Kennedy, meaning that two linked cars will arrive in stations together. Each car carries 200 standing and sitting passengers, so each train set will have room for 400 riders. And, they'll be wearing an off-white and pale grey livery to match the colour of the TTC's subway trains.
The ESMF can store 162 of the vehicles. Once more track is complete, the Metrolinx team and its contractors will test the new cars by operating them between the facility and the future Caledonia Station, two stops east. When the cars have notched 600 kilometres on the odometer, they will be ready for the public.
Verster said that even though the poor weather this winter had made aspects of the construction project difficult—especially at underground station sites—the Crosstown LRT project is on deadline and on budget.
Members of the public can obtain their own sneak preview of the cars—and the storage and maintenance facility, too—during Doors Open Toronto this Saturday, May 25.
What do you think of the Crosstown LRT project and its Bombardier cars? Use the form below this article to add your comments. Or, join the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread.
This story was corrected to remove the reference to Sunday visits during Doors Open. The site will only be open on Saturday.
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