Bombardier Flexity Freedom

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Bombardier Flexity Freedom
Toronto Rocket subway train.
Years of manufacture 2015 onwards
Length 30.2 metres
Width 2650 millimetres
Track gauge 1435 millimetres
Bombardier Flexity Freedom mock-up interior.jpg

The Flexity Freedom, part of Bombardier's Flexity family, is a type of light rail vehicle for systems in Canada and the United States. The Flexity Freedom was the launch vehicle for a series of new light rail lines in Toronto.

The fully low floor vehicles have a 2.65-metre wide body, wider than Bombardier's other LRVs. The vehicles may be made up of three, five, or seven modules. They have cabs at both ends, doors on either side, and run on international standard gauge. Towards the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, Metrolinx decided that the cars for the Eglinton Crosstown line will instead have cabs at one end. Trains will be arranged so that there will be a cab facing either direction. Each LRV will still be able to be driven from either end, with controls concealed at the rear. The cars will draw power from 750V overhead through a pantograph.

History

The orders

Metrolinx placed an order for 182 vehicles in June 2010 for the City of Toronto's new light rail lines. The order is part of an agreement in the TTC's legacy streetcar order for options of up to an additional 400 vehicles. This left 118 more vehicles that could potentially be ordered over six years.[1] In 2013, Metrolinx assigned Waterloo 28 vehicles from an option in the TTC's contract. This lowered procurement costs and reduced the chance of delays.[2] The region approved an order for 14 LRVs with an option to purchase 14 more in the future.

The City of Edmonton approved the Southeast LRT (Valley Line) in 2012. The plan called for an "Urban LRT", one of the characteristics being low floor vehicles. This would allow for smaller-scale stations that can be integrated better into their surroundings, as well as offer easier access to those with disabilities. Bombardier is part of the consortium awarded the contract to design, build, operate, and maintain the Valley Line.[3]

The mock-up

A mock-up with red striping was displayed at the 2011 APTA Expo. It was redone in a green "Crosstown" livery and is currently on tour. The mock-up was displayed from July 6 to 8, 2012 in Vancouver, and then in Edmonton from July 13 to 15, followed by Calgary later in the month.[4] The mock-up was put on display in Toronto during the 2012 Canadian National Exhibition. Following appearances in other parts of Toronto, in Brampton, and in Waterloo, the mock-up returned to the Exhibition in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the mock-up was repainted white with grey a-pillars and roofline as well as a green stripe under the windows. It continues to make various appearances in the GTA.

Production and deliveries

Like Bombardier's 'Legacy' streetcars for Toronto, production of the Flexity Freedom began in Sahagun, Mexico, with final assembly in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Issues stemming from the Mexican plant have seriously delayed production of both product lines. In May 2016, Bombardier announced that they will shift manufacturing from Sahagun to their La Pocatière, Quebec facility with final assembly at their Millhaven facility in October to prevent any further delays. A second assembly line dedicated to the 'Legacy' streetcars commenced in early 2017.

At the time of the first Metrolinx order, the 182 vehciles meant for the priority TTC light rail lines were scheduled to be delivered between 2013 and 2020. However, delays and changes to Transit City have the lines scheduled to begin operation in 2020 and 2021 instead. Production of the Flexity Freedom was expected to start in 2014 with two pilot vehicles completed by the end of the year. This was revised to the fall of 2015[5] and then again to spring of 2016.[6] As that deadline passed with no delivery, Metrolinx expressed concern that the timeline for Toronto's LRT lines would be affected. At the same time, the Region of Waterloo had to push back the opening date of the Ion LRT because of delayed LRV production. The first Ion LRV was to be delivered between May and August 2016, however Bombardier advised the Region that the first LRV would not be delivered until December 2016.[7] Bombardier announced that they were in the final phase of production in August 2016 for a pilot LRV for Metrolinx at their Thunder Bay facility.

In October 2016, Metrolinx formally expressed their intention to cancel their contract with Bombardier, claiming that the company has defaulted on its contract. Metrolinx claimed that the delayed pilot LRV still did not meet the required criteria and could not operate under its own power.[8]

By the end of November 2016, the Metrolinx pilot was transported to Bombardier's Millhaven facility for testing. At the same time, the pilot LRV for Ion was in advanced stages of construction. By the middle of February 2017, the pilot Ion LRV was being prepared for delivery. While Waterloo accepted their pilot for delivery, Metrolinx did not. According to Bombardier, Metrolinx made numerous changes to the scope and technical specifications. The manufacturer applied for an injunction to block attempts to cancel the contract.[9] An Ontario Superior Court judge granted the company’s request for an injunction in April 2016.[10]

In mid-December 2017, Metrolinx and Bombardier came to an agreement where Bombardier will deliver 76 LRVs rather than 182. Metrolinx only requires 76 LRVs because the Scarborough RT replacement has been cancelled, Sheppard East LRT has been indefinitely deferred, and the Finch West LRT will use vehicles from Alstom. The new agreement also includes greater financial penalties for Bombardier if it does not deliver on time or if the quality of the vehicles is not acceptable.[11] Metrolinx has also agreed to extend Bombardier's GO Transit operations and maintenance contract by 18 months.[12]

One of the changes made to the Metrolinx cars, towards the beginning of 2013, was the number of cabs. Metrolinx's Pilot 1 has a cab at both ends while Pilot 2 has a cab at only one end. A hidden control panel is at the rear, and the removal of the cab allows for four perimeter seats. All or a portion of the production cars will be configured like Pilot 2. In service, they will be coupled back-to-back to provide service in both directions on the Eglinton Crosstown line.

A media event was held by Bombardier at the end of October 2018 to show off one of the completed Eglinton Crosstown LRVs. The first LRV was expected to be delivered in November, with another five delivered by February 2019.[13] Metrolinx received the first LRV in January 2019, and by May, had taken delivery of six. On May 22, 2019, Metrolinx held a media event to showcase the new LRVs (unit 6201 was featured). The remaining LRVs will be delivered by 2021, when the Eglinton Crosstown opens.[14]

References

  1. Kalinowski, Tess (14 June 2010). Metrolinx buys 182 streetcars for Transit City. Toronto Star (Toronto). Retrieved on 08 December 2010.
  2. Regional Municipality of Waterloo. (10 July 2013). Council Agenda). Kitchener, ON. Retrieved on 31 August 2013.
  3. Bombardier Wins Order to Supply Light Rail Transit System for City of Edmonton’s Valley Line in Canada. Bombardier Transportation. Retrieved on 17 August 2016.
  4. Callsen, Laurie (13 July 2012). Bombardier shows off light rail train in Edmonton. Free Daily News Group (Edmonton). Retrieved on 14 July 2012.
  5. 5 Year Strategy Progress and 2015/16 Business Plan. Metrolinx. Retrieved on 17 August 2016.
  6. Rapid Transit, Capital Project Group Quarterly Status Report Q4 2015/16. Metrolinx. Retrieved on 18 August 2016.
  7. Revised Bombardier Vehicle Delivery Schedule. Region of Waterloo. Retrieved on 17 August 2016.
  8. Spurr, Ben. Bombardier opens doors to reveal factory building Eglinton Crosstown LRT for Metrolinx. Toronto Star. 22 February 2017.
  9. Spurr, Ben. "Bombardier taking Metrolinx to court." Toronto Star. 10 February 2017.
  10. Bombardier wins battle with Metrolinx, which wanted to cancel contract. Montreal Gazette". 19 April 2017.
  11. [1]
  12. [2]
  13. Get your first look at the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT vehicles in action. 31 October 2018. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  14. Bissonauth, Nitish. "On Track – Your first view of Toronto’s Crosstown’s light rail vehicles in motion". Metrolinx. 22 May 2019.