Impression of Bombardier Flexity Outlook tram for Toronto.

CANADA: Bombardier Transportation has announced its 'largest single order ever for light rail vehicles worldwide', covering 204 trams worth C$851m. Toronto Transit Commission Chief General Manager Gary Webster gave Bombardier the contract award letter on June 26, immediately after a special meeting of Toronto city council which had voted to pick up the share of the cost which the council had hoped would be met from federal sources.

The city had to make a decision by the June 27 deadline set out in an April agreement with Bombardier. This agreement had been announced even though the federal and provincial governments had not committed funding; Ontario came through with its third on June 19, but federal Transport Minister John Baird said there would be no money from Ottawa because the tram purchase did not qualify for the government's stimulus programme.

As a result, the city has made an additional C$417m available by deferring some TTC capital projects in 2012-18. The city will now contribute C$834m towards contract, with the remainder from the province. 'While those capital projects are important, acquiring new streetcars for Toronto is a priority,' said TTC. 'These changes to the TTC's capital budget will not impact service or fares.'

The total cost of the tram order is estimated at around C$1·2bn, including taxes, spares, maintenance and other costs.

Final assembly of the cars will take place at Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant in Ontario. Part of the Flexity Outlook family, the five-section trams will be 30 m long and 2·54 m wide, with all wheels powered. They will be 100% low floor, with capacity for more than 240 passengers and space for bicycles, wheelchairs and prams. A prototype will be delivered in 2011, followed by production cars in 2012-18. Options could see another 400 cars ordered.

The trams will be the fourth generation built for TTC in the last 88 years, following Peter Witt cars (1921-1963), PCCs (1938-95) and the CLRV and its articulated derivative the ALRV (1978-present and 1987-present).

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