News / Edmonton

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson not worried about betting on Bombardier

The city's new LRT partner, TransEd, is a group of companies including Bombardier. They've sold thousands of streetcars worldwide, but have had issues of late.

A Bombardier-built Flexity streetcar operates in Toronto.

TorStar News Service

A Bombardier-built Flexity streetcar operates in Toronto.

Edmonton’s long-term partner for the Valley Line LRT is a group of companies including train-giant Bombardier—but its experience doesn’t guarantee results, as the city of Toronto has found in recent months.

In May, the first Bombardier vehicles included in Toronto’s new $1.2-billion streetcar fleet were so poorly manufactured, the city’s transit agency wouldn’t accept them.

Toronto ordered 204 of Bombardier’s Flexity low-floor streetcars, the same vehicles Edmonton’s Valley Line will run.

So far there are 10 of the new streetcars in service, as Bombardier continues to miss targets.

At the end of October, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) approved a lawsuit against Bombardier for $50 million for the costs of maintaining its aging fleet, which were meant to be replaced by now.

Toronto Coun. Josh Colle, who chairs the TTC board, stressed none of the delays were the fault of the TTC.

“I want to be clear. This is not a TTC failure or problem. This is Bombardier,” he said.

In Edmonton, Mayor Don Iveson was adamant that he’s not concerned for the company’s ability to deliver, leaning on the private-public partnership to incent performance.

“Bombardier is one of four main members of the consortium… it falls to them (and other members) to hold Bombardier to deliver the cars on time,” he said.  “There is a shared accountability there, and the penalties are quite severe.

“Those are both conditions of the contract and that gives me some peace of mind.”

The TransEd connection

Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT will include 13 km of track and 11 stops between Mill Woods and Downtown, where it ends its run at Churchill Square for the benefit of passengers transferring to the Capital or Metro Line.

Members of the new partnership Edmonton has entrusted to build and operate the line for 30 years is involved in similar projects around the world, including more than 80 LRT systems. Here’s a brief look into a few of their most recent projects.

Toronto’s Eglington Crosstown LRT-
The Crosstown is a 25 stop, 19 km light rail track that has been redesigned twice since its conception in 2007. Once redesign proposed it would be completely underground, which inflated the $5.3 billion cost. That plan was overridden in 2012. The line is expected to open in 2021.  

Ottawa’s Confederation Line LRT- Ottawa's second LRT line, the Confederation is a 12.5 km line city councillors unanimously supported in 2012, to be built for $2.3 billion. It will have 13 stations and is meant to be open in 2018, just missing Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations which are expected to bring hordes of visitors to the city in 2017.

England’s Nottingham Express Line-
A 32 km light rail track in Nottingham, England that opened its first phase in 2004 and its second phase recently in August 2015. Originally, one consortium was contracted in to operate the line for 30-years, but lost the contact to another in 2011 when it was re-tendered due to the expansion.

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