Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bombardier OK'd for Waterloo region LRT gear

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The Waterloo (Ontario) Regional Council Wednesday, July 10, 2013, formally approved an agreement in coordination with Greater Toronto Area's Metrolinx to purchase 14 light rail transit vehicles from Bombardier Transportation for roughly C$92.4 million.

Production of the Flexity Freedom gear is scheduled to begin next year, with delivery beginning in the summer of 2016. The council also can exercise an option for 14 additional cars.

The order follows two others involving Bombardier and Toronto, for the moment still the sole operator of LRT in Ontario. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has 204 Flexity Freedom cars on order, mostly for its existing city streetcar network, while Metrolinx expects 182 similar vehicles to be used for LRT expansion the Toronto metropolitan area.

The Waterloo region order is in some ways technically an add-on order to the previous orders made by TTC and Metrolinx. But the Waterloo Regional Council order is a significant indicator of LRT and/or streetcar expansion within Ontario but outside the city of Toronto, also involving Ottawa, the nation's capital, which is purchasing Alstom Citadis Spirit equipment.

The Waterloo region, including Kitchener, Cambridge, Wateloo, and four smaller townships, lies roughly 65 miles west of Canada's largest city, with a population of about 500,000.

Plans for the regional LRT include a first-state line of roughly 12 miles between Waterloo and Kitchener, with Cambridge given a Bus Rapid Transit line. A second stage would add 11 more miles to the system, linking Cambridge with its municipal brethren.

In June 2011, the Waterloo Regional Council approved the C$818 million rail plan. Federal funds of about C$265 million are identified for the project.