Archive for the ‘Light Rail Vehicles’ Category

Bombardier Awarded New Streetcar Contract

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I wanted to absorb the details of this announcement after it first came out. Also, Bombardier has put up a website to showcase the new streetcars.

The contract is for 204 new articulated light rail vehicles for the replacement of the legacy streetcar fleet between 2012 and 2018. The contract has provisions for order extensions for additional vehicles of the same type which will likely be needed when the various waterfront plans move forward. There remains the question of the funding for two thirds of the estimated $1.22 billion (plus taxes) price tag for this contract, and that must be determined before June 27, when the bid price expires.

This contract is not necessarily related to Transit City plans, but it is possible that the vehicles needed for Transit City may be similar in design to permit having a single base for spare parts and repair skills. Transit City vehicles will differ from legacy vehicles in a number of ways:

  • TC vehicles will be double ended while legacy vehicles will be single ended; TC will use cross-overs to turn back while legacy cars will use loops - a single-ended car will have a driver’s cab at one end and loading doors on the right only, while a double-ended car will have a driver’s cab at both ends and doors on both sides.
  • TC vehicles will be a more “off the shelf” design, meaning that its network of track will be built to standards that are fairly common around the world for LRT systems; the legacy network has track geometry (tight curves at intersections) and steep grades that “off the shelf” equipment generally cannot negotiate. It is not known at this time if the TC network will use standard gauge track or “TTC gauge”.
  • TC vehicles will run on track with double-blade switches, while legacy vehicles must negotiate single-blade switches.
  • TC vehicles will use pantographs to pick up power, while the legacy network will continue to use trolley poles; the legacy network will likely eventually move to pantographs - new overhead wiring for the past year has been “pan friendly”.

Slicing Up a $9 billion Pie

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Yesterday, it was announced that $9 billion of the provincial government’s infrastructure funding in last week’s budget will be going to transit in the GTHA. Now that a day has passed since that announcement, I have managed to let its details sink in, because it was not exactly clear-cut about what this fully entailed and what it didn’t. A fair bit of interpolation and extrapolation is necessary, along with piecing in various bits of other information. (more…)

LRT Without Overhead Wiring?

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

In the early days of this site, the rendering of a possible TTC LRV created by Matthew Blackett of Spacing was added. It wasn’t long before I received an email from someone asking how these LRVs received their power, as no overhead can be seen in the image. Naturally, I explained that the rendering was for the purpose of showing what an LRV might look like and the overhead power infrastructure was not shown to keep the image simple.

However, Matthew may have been a little ahead of the times. Recently, Bombardier has been testing its PRIMOVE Catenary-Free Technology. (Thanks to Josh in Australia and W.K. Lis for bringing this to my attention - also see this brochure)

This system is currently undergoing testing at Bombardier’s site in Bautzen, Germany.

 While I don’t believe that this system will be considered for any LRT implementations in the GTHA,  there are three concerns I would have if this were a possibility:

  1. Going with something that is new without a track record has caused us pains in the past. The testing in Bautzen might prove successful, but what happens when a heavy snowfall hits the GTHA? Think ICTS.
  2. Transferring a significant amount of power through induction requires a very strong magnetic field. How does this affect something sensitive to this? Pacemakers come to mind as a very serious issue, but there are others that are not life-threatening such as watches and electronics. We know how one cannot listen to an AM radio on board or close to a CLRV or ALRV that is accelerating or braking, but would the public accept the same sort of noise on their MP3 players? On the other hand, in the interest of energy efficiency, the system might very well concentrate the field to where it is needed and not have any noticeable leakage that could affect other things.
  3. The question of energy efficiency is my third point. How much energy is expended to get the power on-board using an induction system compared to overhead wiring? Bombardier’s material mentions its MITRAC system, which is basically a regenerative braking with storage system to recover energy during braking for reuse during acceleration. Perhaps this system will make up for energy lost in the PRIMOVE system, or perhaps it will provide a net gain.

Streetcar Named Perspire

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

That is the headline of Christina Blizzard’s column in the August 27 Toronto Sun where she comments on the issue of the TTC providing a short list of streetcar/LRV suppliers of Bombardier, Siemens, and Alstom. You can read her full column here, but some of her points are a little misguided.


New Streetcar and LRVs from Alstom?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Though it is not officially on the agenda for this Wednesday’s TTC meeting, it has been reported that a decision will be announced at this meeting about the contract for replacement streetcars. The deal will likely be extended to a contract for Transit City LRVs.

After the announcement that the two submissions for the original request, by Bombardier and Tram Power, were rejected, the TTC opened up direct negotiations with any interested manufacturer. Three manufacturers came forward: Bombardier, Siemens, and Alstom. On Friday, Toronto Sun columnist Christina Blizzard suggested that the deal might go to Alstom (click here to read her column).

August 26 update:

The TTC has issued this press release:

Toronto Transit Commission staff, tomorrow, will seek approval from Commissioners to enter into a multi-phase bid process with three known and proven manufactures of low-floor light rail vehicles: Alstom Transportation Inc., Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc., and Siemens Canada Limited. The technical requirements remain unchanged.

On July 17 the TTC announced that it had cancelled the Request for Proposal process to purchase 204 new low-floor streetcars. The two bids it received at the June 30 deadline were deemed non-compliant. The TTC said it would review its options to ensure the current streetcar fleet is replaced starting in 2012 with new, accessible vehicles. The recommendation from staff is that the TTC begin discussions with all three manufactures with respect to technical and commercial requirements. A formal competitive pricing phase, including a plan for 25% Canadian content, will be the last phase of the process before a contract award is recommended to the Commission.

Prior to the close of the original RFP, the TTC retained a Fairness Monitor, Hon. Coulter Osborne, to ensure the process was followed as set out in the RFP. He concurred with staff’s decision that both bids received by the TTC were evaluated fairly and in a manner consistent with the RFP.

Under its procurement rules, the TTC may contact any vendor, including those who responded to a Request for Expressions of Interest, a process undertaken before the original RFP was issued. The TTC met recently with representatives from Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens. Each indicated they could build a streetcar that meets the technical requirements established in the original RFP.

If the recommendation is adopted, TTC staff will report regularly to the Commission on the status of discussions. The TTC believes the multi-phase bid process is the best option to ensure it obtains new streetcars that will meet the city’s needs. It also allows for questions or concerns to be discussed without the rigors of a formal RFP process.