Canadian Light Rail Vehicle

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CLRV 4059 Glamour Shot.jpg
A Carlton car crosses the Main Street Bridge
Manufacturer L1 - SIG
Constructed 1977-1981[1]
Number built 196
Number in service 155 [1]
Number scrapped 41
Fleet numbers L1 - 4000-4005
L2 - 4010-4199
Capacity 42-46 seated*,[1] 132 crush load
*during rebuilds 4 seats removed
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Roncesvalles, Russell (Connaught)
Line(s) served Toronto Streetcar System
Car length 15,226 mm (49 ft 11.4 in)[2]
Width 2,540 mm (8 ft 4 in)
(2,591 mm or 8 ft 6.0 in over rub rails)[2]
Height 3,625 mm (11 ft 10.7 in)[2]
Floor height 1,125 mm (44.3 in)[2]
Platform height curb height or level with rail head
Entry 4 steps (3 risers inside plus step up from outside)
Doors 2 (1 dual bi-fold front door; 2 paired double leaf rear doorways)
Articulated sections (Rigid Body)
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Weight 22,685 kg (50,012 lb)
Power output 2 x 136 kW (182 hp) continuous
Acceleration 1.47 m/s2 (4.8 ft/s2) (= 5.3km/h per second or 3.3 mph per sec.)

1.6 m/s2 (5.2 ft/s2) (3.46 m/s2 or 11.4 ft/s2 emergency)

(respectively 3.6 mph per sec. and 7 mph per sec.)
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Overhead trolley wire
Current collection method Trolley pole
Braking system(s) Air (Westinghouse Air Brake Company)
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge
Minimum curve 36 ft (10.973 m)
Traction motors DC
TTC Bombardier ALRV 4239.jpg
Manufacturer MAN and UTDC
Urban Transportation Development Corporation
Constructed 1982
Number built 1 prototype
52 standard
Number in service 0 (p)
43 (s) [1]
Number scrapped 1 (p)
9 (s)
Fleet numbers 4900 (prototype)
4200-4251 (standard) [1]
Capacity 61 seated,[1] 205 crush load
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Line(s) served Toronto Streetcar System
Car length 23,164 mm (76 ft 0 in) [4]
Width 2,540 mm (8 ft 4 in)
(2,591 mm or 8 ft 6.0 in over rub rails) [4]
Height 3,626 mm (11 ft 10.8 in) to roof; roof equipment additional [4]
Floor height 1,125 mm (44.3 in)[2]
Platform height curb height or level with rail head
Entry 4 steps (3 risers inside plus step up from outside)
Doors 3
Articulated sections 1 section with 2 articulations
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Weight 36,745 kg (81,009 lb)
Power output 4 x 65 kW (87 hp) continuous
Acceleration 1.2 m/s2 (3.9 ft/s2)
Deceleration 1.6 m/s2 (5.2 ft/s2) (3.13 m/s2 or 10.3 ft/s2 emergency) (respectively 3.6 mph per sec. and 7 mph per sec.)
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Overhead trolley wire
Current collection method Trolley pole
Braking system(s) Air (Westinghouse Air Brake Company)
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) - TTC Gauge
Minimum curve 36 ft (10.973 m)
Traction motors DC

The Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) is a streetcar used by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). They have been the prevalent rolling stock on the Toronto streetcar system since the late 20th century. It comprises two variants: the standard, single-module CLRV and the longer, articulated, double-module Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV).

As of May 2017, CLRVs are used on all streetcar routes except 501 Queen, 502 Downtowner, 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 514 Cherry and comprise the entirety of the fleet on most routes. The ALRVs are used mainly on routes 504 King and 511 Bathurst.


At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, TTC's fleet of PCC streetcars had approached (or exceeded in some cases) the end of its useful life. Many Toronto citizens, and a group known as "Streetcars for Toronto" had fought successfully against the TTC's plans to convert its remaining streetcar lines to buses, and thus necessitated a new streetcar to replace the aging PCCs. The "Canadian Light Rail Vehicle" was an attempt at a new, standardized streetcar design to be used in Toronto and in other new streetcar developments throughout the country. There was also a similar attempt of the concept made in the United States around the same time, with cars built by Boeing Vertol for Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

The first ten CLRV cars were to be manufactured by SIG of Zurich, Switzerland, and used as prototypes for Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) (now Bombardier) to manufacture the rest at the Hawker Siddeley Canada Ltd. Thunder Bay works. They were intended to be numbered 4000-4009; however, as a cost-saving measure this number was reduced to six, accounting for the absence of CLRVs 4006-4009. The remaining 190 UTDC cars were numbered 4010-4199.

CLRV car 4000 had a pantograph when being tested by SIG on the Orbe–Chavornay Railway and was converted to trolley pole before being delivered to Toronto.

In 1980, cars 4027, 4029 and 4031 were leased and tested by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to run on the Green Line.[5] During this time, the cars were occasionally operated as two- and three-car trains. However, the MBTA did not adopt the CLRV design for its light rail fleet.

The prototype for the ALRV, like the first CLRV prototype, was equipped with a pantograph and was numbered 4900. It was built in 1982 and used by the TTC for testing. It was returned to UTDC in 1987. Following a test run, it was rear-ended by another streetcar on the test track, suffering extensive damage, and was scrapped.

The production ALRVs cars were built by two contractors, MAN of Germany for bogies and articulation, and UTDC at the Thunder Bay Plant. The cars are numbered 4200-4251.


The design and operation of the CLRVs and ALRVs carried over features from the highly successful PCCs that they replaced, having a similar interior layout, and the same two green bull's-eye lights in the upper corners of the front, above the destination sign, which uses back-lit roller boards. Braking and acceleration were controlled by the operator with the same pedal layout used on the PCC's, including the dead man's switch which was used to apply the parking brake when the vehicle was not in motion.

Audible warning signals[edit]

When the CLRVs and ALRVs were delivered in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, they were equipped with gongs as the sole audible warning signal. Most cars were retrofitted with horns in the late 1990s when the 510 Spadina line opened. Initially, the horns were salvaged from retired H1 and M1 subway cars which were replaced by the T1 subway cars. However, during the CLRV/ALRV streetcar fleet overhaul project between 2011 and 2012 the TTC reconfigured the streetcar horns with new air horns or automobile-type electric horns.[citation needed]


The previous attempt (made in the United States) to design a US standard light rail car design was unsuccessful, and the resulting cars proved troublesome to both transit systems that had purchased them. While the CLRV had fared better for Toronto's streetcar system, other cities in both the US and Canada expressed little interest in the design, which thus remained exclusive to Toronto's streetcar system. This made the cars increasingly difficult and costly to maintain, as they required specially-made parts, including electronic modules no longer available.

These cars, like the PCCs, have high floors and steps at every doorway, and are therefore not wheelchair accessible, severely limiting their use by people with physical disabilities. With the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act mandating all public transport to be fully accessible by 2025, the TTC saw the need to replace them with accessible vehicles as early as 2005.[6][7][8]

Winter operational issues[edit]

During the winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, many of the CLRV and ALRV streetcars broke down operating in temperatures below -20C due to their age. On one of the worst days in January, 2014, 48 streetcars fail to run for the morning rush hour. The older streetcars use pressurized air passing through tubes and valves to operate such things as suspension, braking, windshield wipers, doors and the rail sander (for traction under icy conditions). Condensation can freeze and block the air tubes causing a variety of malfunctions. Over time, salt erodes the air tanks and the tubing gets brittle and leaks leading to less efficient air flow which may cause the compressor beneath the tail of the car to overheat and break down.

To address these problems, the TTC performed fixes taking 2–3 days per streetcar to implement. These included the installation of new air tanks and filters, the replacement of old tubing to the windshield wipers, repairs on the valves controlling air flow to the rail sanders, overhaul of the brake valves, and the correction of any suspension system deficiencies.[9]

In January 2017, the TTC claimed that delays in delivery of the new wheelchair-compatible and air-conditioned Flexity Outlook streetcars had resulted in both streetcar and bus shortages. Because the old streetcars require extra maintenance, only 170 of the 200 old streetcars could be put into service. This shortage lead to the replacement of streetcars by buses on routes 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Rd and 511 Bathurst, which in turn lead to a reduction of service on some bus routes.[10][11]



By 2018, the TTC plan to rebuild and extend the life of 30 CLRVs and 30 ALRVs. In 2016, 56 employees were working on this rebuild program. Refurbishing each ALRV takes about 55 days and costs $800,000. The cost for each CLRV is about $200,000. The total cost will be $33,1 million. Delays in delivery of the new Flexity streetcars made the refurbishment program necessary.[12]

The refurbishent of 30 ALRVs alone will cost $24 million, and there is an option to refurbish another 10. The remaining 12 ALRVs will be stripped of useful parts and scrapped. The renovations include new energy-efficient LED lights, upgraded floors and fresh seats, overhauled pneumatic, brake and traction systems. This is expected to extend the life of the cars to 2024 as more Flexities arrive and enter service.[13] The first renovated ALRV (4217) entered service on October 15, 2015.[14]

The use of salt brine to de-ice city streets has corroded parts on the older streetcars so much that such parts must often be cut off the car. The TTC Harvey Shops must manufacture some of the replacement such as the chevrons to attach the bogies to carbody. The upholstery department constructs the bellows used between the articulated sections of the ALRV. Each set of bellows takes 240 hours to construct from a vinyl-like material using electric sewing machines.[12]

Replacement and retirement[edit]

The CLRV and ALRV streetcars are being replaced by low-floor Flexity Outlook vehicles. Replacement began in 2014 with the introduction of the first vehicles on the 510 Spadina route.

As of May 2017, 31 CLRVs and 9 ALRVs have been retired.[15] The first CLRV to be retired was 4063. It was intended to be the first prototype for the TTC's CLRV overhaul program, which was to include a complete reconstruction of the body as well as new propulsion and control systems. However, after the car was stripped, the overhaul program was cancelled. Because of a diminishing supply of spare parts for the active fleet, it was decided that the unit would be scrapped and all usable parts be salvaged for repairs to the existing fleet. The shell was sold for scrap in March 2009 to Future Enterprises of Hamilton, Ontario.[16]

4062 was the second CLRV retired, after it suffered a serious collision with TTC bus 7807 in East York.[17]

It is expected that the last CLRVs and ALRVs will be retired by 2024 when the entire network is equipped with Flexities.[13]

Some of the retiring CLRV and ALRV streetcars will be auctioned off in bulk to museums and collectors, but most will be broken up for scrap starting in 2015.[13]

See also[edit]

Similar vehicles[edit]

Related pages[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g
  2. ^ a b c d e The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (The CLRVs) - Transit Toronto - Content. Transit Toronto (2013-01-27). Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  3. ^ a b TTC - The Coupler - Wheels of Progress. Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved on 2015-03-16.
  4. ^ a b c The Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (the ALRVs) - Transit Toronto - Content. Transit Toronto (2012-12-24). Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  5. ^ 4029 and 4031 at Arborway Station in Boston, Massachusetts
  6. ^ Kevin Connor (2012-11-15). "TTC officially unveils new streetcar". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2012-11-16. The current, 35-year-old fleet is being replaced by 204 new vehicles, which will be in service by 2014 and introduced to Toronto’s streets during a five-year period. The 510 Spadina line will be the first route equipped with the new acquisitions. 
  7. ^ Kyle Bachan, Hamutal Dotan (2012-11-15). "TTC Previews Our New Streetcars: Media and politicians explore the first full-size test vehicle from Toronto's new streetcar fleet.". The Torontoist. Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Key is the new Presto fare payment system, which will include open payment options—by credit and debit cards, and by mobile devices, as well as the Presto fare cards. Crucially, this will allow for all-door loading and hopefully cut down on the amount of time vehicles need to spend at each stop. Also crucial: the new low-floor design, which will make it much easier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids to board and exit. 
  8. ^ The Torontoist (2011-11-17). "The Toronto Light Rail Vehicles (The LRVs)". James Bow. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  9. ^ Alex Ballingall (December 1, 2015). "Aging TTC streetcars rattle into winter". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  10. ^ Ben Spurr (9 January 2017). "TTC blames service cuts on streetcar delays". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  11. ^ Steve Munro (11 December 2016). "TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, January 8, 2017". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  12. ^ a b Ben Spurr (13 May 2016). "TTC staff 'perform miracles' keeping aging streetcar fleet on track". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  13. ^ a b c Chris Bateman (2015-06-16). "TTC upgrading some streetcars, crushing others". MetroNews. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  14. ^ "Newly-restored TTC streetcar enters service". Toronto Transit Commission. 2015-10-15. Archived from the original on 2016-11-12. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  15. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 2016-05-07.
  16. ^ Toronto Transit Commission 4000-4005, 4010-4199 - CPTDB Wiki. Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  17. ^ [2]. Retrieved on 2016-03-21.

External links[edit]