Flexity Freedom

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Flexity Freedom
Ion unit 501, at Ion OMSF during public tour event
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation
Built at Thunder Bay and Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Family name Flexity
Entered service expected 2017[1]
Number under construction 196 ordered (182+14)[2]
Capacity 56 (seats) 130 (standees) 4 (accessible spaces) 251 (total capacity) [3]
Car length 30.8 m (101 ft 1 in)[3]
Width 2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)[3]
Height 3.6 m (11 ft 10 in)[3]
Doors 8-12 (4-6 on each side)[3]
Articulated sections 5[3]
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Overhead trolley wire[3]
Current collection method Pantograph
Minimum turning radius 25 metres (82.02 ft)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Flexity Freedom is a low-floor, articulated light rail vehicle developed by Bombardier Transportation for the North American market. It is marketed as part of its Flexity family which includes other models of trams (streetcars) and light metro vehicles. They are produced in facilities in Thunder Bay and Kingston, Ontario, which once produced rolling stock under the names of Canada Car and Foundry (CC&F) and Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), respectively.

The Flexity Freedom is to be used on the Ion rapid transit in Waterloo, Line 5 Eglinton in Toronto, and the Valley Line in Edmonton; it is also being considered for future Canadian light rail systems, including the B-Line in Hamilton.[4][5]

Being entirely low-floor, these vehicles directly compete with the Flexity Swift, Siemens S70, CAF Urbos, and Kinki Sharyo LRVs. However, as they are designed for light rail rather than streetcar applications, they also compete against, to a lesser extent, low-floor streetcars from Skoda/Inekon and Brookville Equipment Corporation, among others.


The vehicles all have a 100% low-floor design and can be built to operate unidirectionally or bidirectionally.[6] The vehicles' design includes energy-saving features, like regenerative braking and the use of LED lighting, but they are also air-conditioned. The vehicles may be coated in special paint designed to resist graffiti. They are equipped with passenger counters at the doors.[3]

The vehicles are articulated, but unlike competing rolling stock, they are built out of similar-length modules.[3] Operators can alter the number of intermediate modules, thus altering the capacity of the individual vehicles. The Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo vehicles will contain five modules, while those in Edmonton will have seven modules. Vehicles can be coupled and operated as trains of up to four connected vehicles.

The maximum passenger capacities, in the standard seating layouts, are 135 and 251, for the three and five-module configurations respectively. When run in the five-module configuration, with train-sets of four vehicles, the maximum capacity of a light rail line is 30,000 passengers per peak hour. The vehicles' standard passenger configuration can safely accommodate up to four passengers in wheelchairs. For example, the trains for Edmonton will carry up to 275 passengers per trains.[5]

According to Bombardier, the trainsets can be built for "catenary-free" power, where, instead of being powered by direct contact with overhead wires they are powered indirectly through induction, through buried loops, a form of ground-level power supply competing directly with Alstom's "APS" system.[3]

Freedom vs. Outlook in Toronto[edit]

Flexity Freedom vehicles are technically similar to, but different from, the Flexity Outlook vehicles currently in production for the Toronto streetcar system in that they are wider and capable of higher speeds, and use standard gauge rather than the streetcar system's unique broad gauge.[3] All current production models have cabs on both ends and doors on both sides, while the Flexity Outlook have only one cab and doors on one side, as with all previous generations of streetcars. While Flexity Outlook vehicles are able to negotiate the tight curves of the largely on-street trackage and its single-point switches, Flexity Freedom vehicles require a minimum curve radius of 25 metres (82.02 ft) and conventional double-point switches.[7]

The light rail lines in Toronto will be constructed to standard gauge instead of Toronto's streetcar gauge because Metrolinx, the Ontario provincial transit authority funding the projects, wants to ensure a better price for purchasing vehicles by having a degree of commonality with other similar projects within Ontario.[8]



The Flexity Freedom cars were designed for the Transit City plan which would have created six suburban LRT lines for an order of about 300 cars. Only two of these projects were active in 2016: the Eglinton Crosstown line, the first to go into construction, and the Finch West LRT, which was approved later. Metrolinx placed its first order for 182 vehicles[2][9] under a $770 million contract announced in 2010. Of the 182 vehicles ordered, 76 are for the Eglinton Crosstown line and 23 for the Finch West LRT.[10] Bombardier expects deliveries to start in 2018.[11]

As of May 2016, Metrolinx has not received the prototype vehicle that Bombardier was supposed to produce by spring 2015. The prototype, once received, will be tested for one or two years to work out any design bugs before Bombardier begins to manufacture the rest of the order.[12]

In July 2016, Bombardier spokesman Marc-André Lefebvre acknowledged receipt of “a contractual notice” from Metrolinx complaining about the delay in delivery of the prototype vehicle. Lefebvre said that the prototype will be delivered in August giving Metrolinx 18 months to test the vehicle, about double the time needed for testing. Lefebvre also said production will begin in spring 2018 and the remainder of the 182-car order will be delivered in time for the scheduled opening of the line.[13] On September 1, 2016, Bombardier said the prototype was nearing completion at the Thunder Bay plant and would be available for testing in 3–4 weeks.[14]

As of September 2016, the province allowed consortia to include the delivery of light-rail vehicles in their bid to build the Finch LRT. This implies that the Finch LRT might not use Flexity Freedom vehicles.[15]

In November 2016, Metrolinx gave formal notice of intent to cancel its $770-million contract with Bombardier.[16] Metrolinx alleges unacceptable delivery delays fearing that the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown line would be delayed due to a lack of vehicles. Bombardier claims it can complete the order on time.[17] Metrolinx also alleges that the prototype cannot handle basic functions such as taking power from an overhead catenary. Bombardier claims the prototype functions properly, and that it is conducting static tests before doing moving tests with power taken from a catenary.[18]

In late November 2016, Bombardier shipped the first pilot vehicle from its Thunder Bay plant to continue testing at its Kingston plant. The vehicle still requires nine months of qualification testing.[19][20]

Waterloo Region[edit]

In July 2013, the Region of Waterloo finalized a deal with Metrolinx to join their contract to the Toronto order and purchase 14 vehicles for the Ion light rail system at a cost of $66-million.[21][22][23]

Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant will build five production vehicles with the Kingston plant making the remaining nine.[11] To avoid bottlenecks and shipping delays at its Thunder Bay plant, assembly work for the Flexity Freedom would be shifted to Bombardier's Kingston, Ontario factory.[24] Bombardier is also moving the building of vehicle sub-assemblies from a plant in Mexico to one in La Pocatière, Quebec, and cab structures to another unspecified plant.[12][13]

The delivery of the first vehicle had been expected in August 2016, and the remainder by the end of 2016.[25] However, by May 2016, Bombardier announced that delivery of the first car will be delayed to December 2016, and the last car will be delivered by October 2017.[12] The Rail Journal reported the first vehicle was loaded for delivery from the Thunder Bay plant on February 15, 2017. Further shipments will be from Bombardier's Kingston plant, the next shipment expected in June or July 2017.[26][27]


As part of a consortium that won the contract to build and operate the Edmonton LRT Valley Line in February 2016, Bombardier is providing Flexity Freedom vehicles for use on the new line,[5] as opposed to Siemens LRVs on the existing Capital and Metro Lines.


It is uncertain whether the Hamilton B-Line LRT would use the Flexity Freedom. The province expects to issue a request for qualifications to build the line in 2017, but as of October 2016, Metrolinx has not announced whether the supply of light-rail vehicles would be part of the request, which would open the project to competing vehicle suppliers.[15]

Peel Region[edit]

The Hurontario LRT, which will operate in the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, will use the Flexity Freedom when in service in 2022. The orders for the Flexity Freedom have not been ordered yet. Mock-ups of the vehicles have been displayed to the public for viewing.

Production delays[edit]

Bombardier's orders to build Flexity Outlook vehicles for Toronto's streetcar system, and Flexity Freedom vehicles for Toronto's new light rail lines. However, both experienced significant delays in deliveries.[28] As a result, for the latter, Metrolinx took Bombardier to court, in 2016, over its concern that Bombardier was years behind schedule in delivering acceptable pilot vehicles, for testing.[29] Bombardier's schedule for delivering Flexity Outlook vehicles to the TTC was also years behind schedule.

After Metrolinx failed to be successful in a court action, it announced on May 12, 2017, that it had signed an order with Alstom, a competitor of Bombardier's, to order 61 light rail vehicles.[28] Ben Spurr, the Toronto Star's transportation critic, reported that Metrolinx would use the Alstom vehicles on other lines (most likely the Hurontario LRT), if Bombardier did turn out to be able to complete its order in time to open the Eglinton Crosstown route. Spurr reported that Metrolinx would face penalties of half a million dollars a day, if vehicles weren't ready when the line was scheduled to open.

An Alstom press release said that the order was for 48 metres (157 ft) Citadis Spirit vehicles, the same design as it was supplying for Ottawa's new light rail line.[30] Spurr wrote that the Citadis Spirit vehicles were 50% larger than Flexity Freedom vehicles, so transit planners anticipated fewer vehicles would be required.[31] According to Spurr the Citadis vehicles will cost $8.7 million each, over twice the $4.2 million cost of the Flexity vehicles.


  1. ^ Melissa Murray (11 July 2013). "Region finalizes LRT vehicle deal". Kitchener Post. Retrieved 16 November 2013. By 2017, the LRT will serve a 19-kilometre corridor from the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to the Fairview Mall in Kitchener. 
  2. ^ a b "Metrolinx spends $770-million to order 182 LRT vehicles from Bombardier". The Globe and Mail. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "FLEXITY Freedom". Bombardier Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-13. Retrieved May 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Bombardier façonne l'avenir de la mobilité avec ses solutions d'avant-garde pour le secteur ferroviaire à l'EXPO APTA 2011" [Bombardier is shaping the future of mobility with its avant-garde solutions for the railway sector in the APTA EXPO 2011] (in French). Le Lezard. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2013-06-26. A l'EXPO APTA 2011, Bombardier Transport fait le lancement de sa nouvelle plate-forme de véhicule léger sur rail très éconergétique FLEXITY Freedom, destinée au marché nord-américain. FLEXITY Freedom combine des innovations et des éléments éprouvés tirés de la réputée plate-forme de tramway modulaire FLEXITY pour en faire le véhicule de choix de tout développement futur dans le domaine du transport urbain. 
  5. ^ a b c "Bombardier Wins Order to Supply Light Rail Transit System for City of Edmonton's Valley Line in Canada". Bombardier Transportation. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Freedom takes Flexity to the North American tram market". Railway Gazette. 2011-10-22. Archived from the original on 2013-11-21. Reflecting Canadian conditions, the trams are designed to cope with heavy snow, featuring heated door thresholds and couplers, heat exchanges on the HVAC, and the ability to cope with snow settling to 355 mm deep on the roof. The underframe will be fabricated from stainless steel to resist corrosion from road gritting salts. 
  7. ^ Steve Munro (10 November 2011). "TTC Unveils New Streetcar Design and Mockup". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  9. ^ "Metrolinx exercises option for 182 light rail vehicles". Railway Gazette. 2011-10-22. Archived from the original on 2013-05-20. Reflecting Canadian conditions, the trams are designed to cope with heavy snow, featuring heated door thresholds and couplers, heat exchanges on the HVAC, and the ability to cope with snow settling to 355 mm deep on the roof. The underframe will be fabricated from stainless steel to resist corrosion from road gritting salts. 
  10. ^ Ben Spurr (28 September 2016). "Metrolinx to consider Bombardier competitors for Finch West LRT". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  11. ^ a b Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press (20 May 2016). "Bombardier shifts production in bid to speed up Toronto streetcar deliveries". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-05-20. 
  12. ^ a b c Ben Spurr, Staff Reporter (24 May 2016). "Bombardier delays force Waterloo to push back LRT opening". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  13. ^ a b Ben Spurr (20 July 2016). "Metrolinx threatens legal action over late delivery of light rail vehicles". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-07-20. 
  14. ^ Ben Spurr (1 September 2016). "Bombardier misses another deadline for Eglinton Crosstown project". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  15. ^ a b Ben Spurr (18 October 2016). "Metrolinx not counting on Bombardier for new LRT lines". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  16. ^ Craig, Sean (November 3, 2016). "Metrolinx files notice of intent to cancel Bombardier Inc light rail vehicle contract worth $770 million". National Post. Financial Post. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  17. ^ Oliver Moore (March 21, 2017). "Time is of the essence in Eglinton Crosstown LRT fight". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-03-24. 
  18. ^ Oliver Moore (February 14, 2017). "Metrolinx rejects Bombardier's claims of laxity in wake of court filing". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  19. ^ Drew, Chris. "1st @CrosstownTO Pilot LRV picture. Departed @BombardierRail yesterday". Twitter. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  20. ^ "Bombardier sends Eglinton Crosstown, Finch West LRT test car to Kingston, Ont. for trials". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-29. 
  21. ^ Douglas John Bowen (2013-07-12). "Waterloo opts for Bombardier LRVs". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-13. The first of the Flexity Freedom LRV are due to be delivered in mid-2016, and will be used on the 19km, 16-station line from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. The $C 92.4m ($US 89.2m) contract will include an option for 16 additional vehicles. 
  22. ^ Paige Desmond (2013-07-11). "LRT model rolls into Waterloo Region". Kitchener, Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-13. Councillors decided in June 2012 to piggyback on an existing contract that Crown corporation Metrolinx has with Bombardier instead of putting out a request for proposals. 
  23. ^ Paige Desmond (2013-07-11). "Region approves purchase of Bombardier LRT trains". Kitchener, Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-13. The region's train order will be added to a contract Metrolinx has to buy light rail vehicles for the City of Toronto. Officials said it would lower costs, keep the project on schedule, improve vehicle reliability over a longer period and offer an opportunity to share parts and knowledge. 
  24. ^ Paige Desmond (2016-05-20). "Bombardier moves LRT train production to Kingston to keep project on track". Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Retrieved 2016-05-22. Marc-André Lefebvre, head of communications with Bombardier Canada, said five of the region's 14 light rail vehicles will be completed in Thunder Bay and the rest will be made in Kingston starting in 2017. 
  25. ^ Murray, Melissa (26 February 2016). "Bombardier cuts won't affect delivery of region's LRVs". Kitchener Post. Retrieved 2016-05-21. 
  26. ^ Keith Barrow (2017-02-16). "Bombardier rolls out first LRV for Waterloo". Rail Journal. Retrieved 2017-02-16. The first Flexity Freedom LRV for the initial phase of the Ion light rail network in the Canadian city of Waterloo was loaded onto a lorry at Bombardier’s plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on February 15 in readiness for delivery, which is expected to take 10-12 days. 
  27. ^ "First ION train shipping from Thunder Bay tomorrow". Region of Waterloo - Municipal. Region of Waterloo. February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  28. ^ a b Ben Spurr (2017-05-11). "Metrolinx to buy vehicles from Bombardier competitor". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-05-12. According to sources familiar with the deal, Metrolinx has agreed to purchase 61 cars from French manufacturer Alstom as a backup plan if Bombardier doesn’t come through. 
  29. ^ Ben Spurr (2017-03-02). "Metrolinx in talks with another company to replace Bombardier vehicles as fears mount over $500,000 a day late fees". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-05-12. Metrolinx submitted the affidavits in response to an application for an injunction Bombardier filed earlier this month in an attempt to prevent the transit agency from cancelling its contract for 182 LRVs. The documents, which have not been tested in court, paint a scathing picture of Bombardier and allege that the company has irreparably bungled the Crosstown order. 
  30. ^ "Alstom receives order for 61 Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles for Greater Toronto and Hamilton area". Alstom. 2017-05-12. Retrieved 2017-05-12. Alstom has been awarded a firm order for the supply of 61 Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area (GTHA) by Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario. The value of the contract is over €355 million (CA$529 million). The vehicle supply contract includes an option for additional vehicles. 
  31. ^ Ben Spurr (2017-05-13). "How do TTC's streetcar options compare? It's Bombardier versus Alstom". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-05-13.