For Alstom Canada, Full Railcar Speed AheadWritten by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Now that Bombardier Transportation’s North American assets and operations are fully integrated into Alstom, major customers, particularly those in Canada, apparently are feeling more confident in continuing investments in rail transit rolling stock, as evidenced by an order for 60 Flexity streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and refurbishments of GO Transit bi-level commuter railcars.
On Oct. 22, 2020, the TTC approved purchase of 13 additional Flexity streetcars from Bombardier for delivery in 2023, with an option for 47 more cars. The acquisition was contingent on government funding, which is now available: The Ontario Provincial government has committed to C$180 million; the Government of Canada is matching it, with the City of Toronto adding C$208 million, for a total of C$568. The streetcars will be produced in Alstom’s Thunder Bay, Ont., plant (a long-time Bombardier facility), with vehicle delivery starting in 2023 and concluding in 2025. The funding also includes work to expand TTC’s Hillcrest storage facility in Toronto to accommodate the new streetcars.
The original order by TTC for 204 Bombardier Flexity streetcars had been plagued with quality control problems and chronically late deliveries over a six-year period, 2014-2020. The additional 60 just ordered from Alstom will bring the fleet to 264.
“These new streetcars will ensure that the TTC can address immediate fleet needs, match capacity of customer demand and reallocate 50 buses that are currently supplementing streetcar service to return to operation on local bus routes,” the Province said.
In addition, Metrolinx, the transit agency with responsibility for services and expansion projects in the GTHA (Greater Toronto Hamilton Area), will continue discussions with Alstom under an existing maintenance contract for refurbishment of additional GO Transit bi-level commuter railcars. This is on top of a September 2019 contract originally awarded to Bombardier for 36 new bi-level cars (31 standard and five accessible cars) now under construction at Thunder Bay. Those 36 cars, slated for delivery in summer 2021, will bring GO Transit’s bi-level fleet to 949.
“On behalf of our employees in Thunder Bay and across Canada, Alstom thanks our government partners for their work to prioritize transit projects in Ontario,” said Alstom Canada President Souheil Abihanna. “We welcome this opportunity to build 60 additional streetcars for the TTC and to contribute to the overhaul of bi-level cars for Metrolinx. This will allow us to maintain jobs and expertise for our skilled workforce in Thunder Bay and to strengthen our country’s rail ecosystem.”