Bombardier Inc. has delivered six new light rail vehicles that it built for the $5.3 billion Eglinton Crosstown transit project “close to schedule,” says Metrolinx CEO and president Phil Verster.
“We’ve come a long way,” Verster told reporters on Wednesday.
“I can only think back, about 18 months ago, this program was far behind. And deliveries were going to be about two years behind the targeted dates. We took delivery of the first six vehicles a few weeks late,” he said.
“Bombardier is continuously working at delivering on time. And that is much appreciated.”
Metrolinx gave reporters a glimpse Wednesday of the new light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility on 85 Industry St., in Toronto.
The first six vehicles, out of a total of 76, had arrived by Feb. 16. The final deadline for their delivery was Feb. 1. The vehicles are now undergoing “low speed” testing.
Bombardier, headquartered in Montreal, is the only company involved in the manufacture of the vehicles.
Verster said the project, which has been delayed by a year, is within budget and slated to be completed at the end of September 2021. He declined to specify the financial penalties applied to Bombardier under a $392-million contract signed with the manufacturer in 2017. But penalties were paid, he added.
Difficulties have plagued the vehicle order tied to the light rail line now under construction along and underneath Eglinton Avenue, with legal battles leading to a reduced contract in 2017.
Vehicles similar in look to new TTC streetcars
Black and white in colour, the vehicles made by Bombardier can carry up to 200 people, standing and sitting. They have blue, green and yellow seats, which Metrolinx describes as an “uplifting” colour, with yellow tubing.
The vehicles look similar to the TTC’s new streetcars, but they do not have Presto machines inside, and doors can open on both sides, although they will not open on both sides at the same time for safety reasons.
Below ground, the vehicles can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour, while above ground, they can reach speeds of 28 to 32 kilometres per hour.
Verster said Metrolinx now has enough time to test and modify the vehicles if need be, given that it has more than two years to finish the project.
“It’s a great outcome. And we continue to focus on delivering this program on time.”
Verster said he is confident that the project will be completed and the rest of the vehicles delivered on time.
Crews have had to work in muddy conditions
“It’s fair to say that we’ve recovered the schedule from a place where it was really not looking good to where it is much better now. I think we’ve created all of the conditions, commercial and otherwise, for success around this contract. We’re very excited about Bombardier achieving these first milestones,” he said.
Verster said the project, which he described as “the typical big construction job,” is still on target for September 2021 even though it has faced challenges, including crews having to work in wet, muddy conditions.
“It’s been a tough winter,” he said.
“It’s coming together now,” Verster said. “It’s good to have these vehicles in service more than two-and-a-half years before their service date.”
One challenge was a fire at York Memorial Collegiate Institute in early May that left water, dust and debris at the Keelesdale site, according to Crosstown Transit Solutions, which is building the LRT line.
Roads and sidewalks adjacent to the site had to be repaired due to water damage.
When the project is completed, the line will have 25 stations running from Mount Dennis to Kennedy. A portion of the route, from Laird Drive in the east to Keele Street in the west, will be underground.