During our ongoing Crosstown Progress series, looking at every major element of Toronto’s Crosstown light rail transit project, we’ve seen work on the line, but haven’t seen the machines that will run on those rails. That changes today. Our Metrolinx light rail vehicles are being tested, and we can finally show you how they look while on the move.
Bigger than any baby, our next generation of transit vehicle is taking first public steps – and we could not be prouder.
The giant doors of the Eglinton Crosstown Maintenance Facility, at Toronto’s Mount Dennis station, are swinging open, as Metrolinx unveils our line of new light rail vehicles (LRV). Before today, the tinkering and tightening has largely been far out of sight of the public. Now it’s time to open those bay doors and let our LRVs play – and be tested – outside.
“I had a chance to take the controls of one of the new vehicles on Thursday and take it for a test drive, and it’s excellent,” says Phil Verster, Metrolinx President and CEO. “Our customers are going to have a phenomenal experience
“This is a very exciting milestone for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (light rail transit) project and for Metrolinx. Our commercial and project management with Bombardier is delivering what we expected.”
The smooth and quick vehicles will soon provide much needed transit to neighbourhoods along the 19-kilometre route of Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT line.
Metrolinx and its constructor, Crosslinx Transit Solution (CTS), have been conducting low-speed vehicle testing at the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility (EMSF). During a press event on May 22, 2019, the vehicles operated under their own power. As well, it was the first public testing of the EMSF systems.
“I like the sleek looking, modern design of the vehicle – in transit terms I consider them quite sexy,” says Gord Campbell, CTS’s Revenue Vehicle Manager.
The LRVs are classy and not flashy. The vehicles have a neutral exterior with no brand colour – just simple black and white.
The livery choice was very specific. Once in service, the light rail transit line will be considered part of the subway system, and known as ‘Eglinton Line 5’. Since the underground TTC vehicles have a metal finish, the idea was the LRV colour scheme would resemble them.
They now move around easily. But getting them to Toronto by road, and then offloading them, was no simple feat.
“The logistics were so well choreographed,” says Campbell. “Bombardier was providing continuous updates on where the delivery truck was located along the highways of Ontario.”
The vehicles were moved thanks to a special tractor flatbed designed for the extra-long and heavy load. Once on site, an offloading ramp was used to get the first LRV down from the trailer. An electric rail car mover then pulled the vehicle down the ramp onto the tracks of the EMSF.
Campbell remembers that first delivery day in January, 2019, like it was yesterday.
“The atmosphere around the shop was exciting,” he recalls. “As the LRV cleared the front gates of the facility, most employees stopped their work to watch the LRV parade past their window.
“We had the same feeling as a child’s excitement of waking up on Christmas morning and getting a special gift from Santa.”
For many working on the project, the initial delivery was a career high.
The new transit machines can achieve speeds of 80km/hr. The actual working speed will be determined by the spacing between stops and the dwells at those stops.
The vehicles will carry 200 passengers – that`s three times as many riders as a typical bus – and will use DC power. They will also have traction inverters onboard to use three-phase AC motors. That means quick and smooth power and braking.
Prior to the May 22 media event, tests were performed without any problems or serious challenges, which confirmed to Campbell and his team that all the major components of the infrastructure were installed properly. That includes the interface of the LRV with the tracks, the yard switches, clearances with the yard poles and the Overhead Catenary System (OCS).
“I have great confidence in the success of this project here in Toronto,” says Campbell, who`s been in the rail industry for 40 years.
“Time will ultimately tell on how the vehicles will perform, but we have the expertise on hand to make sure any bugs will be worked out.”
Campbell also points out the LRVs are a slight derivation of the current TTC streetcars and Region of Waterloo vehicles – an advantage as the manufacturer has had time to work on improvements.
The Crosstown LRVs produce zero emissions and will travel on a dedicated right-of-way, so they won’t impede traffic.
They`re also used to extreme cold and snow, and are used in cities like Edmonton, Minneapolis and Stockholm. Toronto weather should not be a problem.
The rest of the LRV deliveries are underway and will continue until all 76 LRVs have arrived in 2021 – when the Eglinton Crosstown is expected to be in service.
Until then, we proudly present the first public steps.
Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist.