Bombardier Flexity Freedom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Flexity Freedom)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bombardier Flexity Freedom
Ion unit 501, at Ion OMSF during public tour event
Ion unit 501, at Ion OMSF during public tour event
ManufacturerBombardier Transportation
Built atThunder Bay and Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Family nameFlexity
Entered serviceJune 21, 2019[1]
Number under construction
  • Toronto: 76
  • Edmonton: 26[2]
Number in serviceWaterloo: 14
Capacity135–275 depending on configuration[3][4]
Car length20.0 m (65 ft 7 in) or
30.8 m (101 ft 1 in) depending on configuration[3]
Width2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)[3]
Height3.6 m (11 ft 10 in)[3]
Doors8–16 (4–8 on each side)[3][4]
Articulated sections5–7[3][4]
Maximum speed80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Electric system(s)750 V DC Overhead trolley wire[3]
Current collection methodPantograph
Minimum turning radius25 metres (82.02 ft)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Bombardier 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 the Bombardier 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 used on the Ion rapid transit in Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario. It is planned for use on light rail systems under construction, including Line 5 Eglinton in Toronto and the Valley Line in Edmonton. It is also being considered for use on other planned light rail systems in Ontario, including the Hamilton LRT in Hamilton and the Hurontario LRT in Mississauga and Brampton.[5][6]

Being entirely low-floor, these vehicles directly compete with the Bombardier Flexity Swift, Alstom Citadis, 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.[7] 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 train.[6]

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 the Flexity Outlook vehicles of the Toronto streetcar system, but are wider and capable of higher speeds, and use standard gauge rather than the streetcar system's 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.[8]

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.[9]



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[10][11] under a CA$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.[12] Bombardier expects deliveries to start in 2018.[13]

By May 2016, Metrolinx had 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]

In 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.[17]

In November 2016, Metrolinx gave formal notice of intent to cancel its contract with Bombardier.[18] Metrolinx alleged unacceptable delivery delays fearing that the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown line would be delayed due to a lack of vehicles. Bombardier claimed it could complete the order on time.[19] Metrolinx also alleged that the prototype could not handle basic functions such as taking power from an overhead catenary. Bombardier claimed the prototype functioned properly, and that it was conducting static tests before doing moving tests with power taken from a catenary.[20]

In late November 2016, Bombardier shipped the first pilot vehicle from its Thunder Bay plant to its Kingston plant to continue testing. The vehicle was still expected to require nine months of qualification testing.[21][22]

On March 2, 2017, Metrolinx filed court affidavits to support its action to terminate the Flexity Freedom contract due to high financial risks. If Bombardier fails to deliver on time, Metrolinx is liable to pay Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium building the Crosstown, $500,000 per day[23] while Bombardier is liable to pay only $1,500 per day per late vehicle.[24]

After Metrolinx failed in its court action against Bombardier, it announced on May 12, 2017, that it had signed an order for 61 light rail vehicles with Alstom, a competitor of Bombardier. If Bombardier delivers the Flexity Freedom vehicles on time to service the Eglinton Crosstown line, then Metrolinx will assign 17 Alstom Citadis Spirit LRVs to the Finch West LRT and 44 to the Hurontario LRT. However, If Bombardier is late in delivery, the Alstom units will serve the Eglinton Crosstown.[25]

On December 21, 2017, Metrolinx[26] and Bombardier[27] announced an agreement to reduce the Metrolinx order for Flexity Freedom vehicles from $770 million for 182 vehicles to $392 million for 76 vehicles. The revised order is enough to supply only the Eglinton Crosstown line. The agreement also increases the potential penalty against Bombardier for late deliveries. In exchange, Bombardier received an 18-month extension on their contract to operate and maintain GO Transit rail services on behalf of Metrolinx.[28][24]

In late October 2018, the first vehicle arrived in Kingston for testing and was scheduled to be delivered to Toronto in November, followed by five more cars by February 2019.[29][30] The first Flexity Freedom vehicle arrived on January 8, 2019, at the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility.[31] On February 1, 2019, Metrolinx announced that Bombardier had missed the deadline to deliver the first six vehicles.[32]

Waterloo Region[edit]

Ion vehicle 507 at Queen station during testing in August 2018

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.[33][34][35]

Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant built one production vehicle, and two prototype vehicles, with the Kingston plant making the remaining 13.[13] To avoid bottlenecks and shipping delays at its Thunder Bay plant, assembly work for the Flexity Freedom was shifted to Bombardier's Kingston, Ontario factory.[36] 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.[14][15]

The delivery of the first vehicle had been expected in August 2016, and the remainder by the end of 2016.[37] 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.[14]

The Rail Journal reported the first vehicle was loaded for delivery from the Thunder Bay plant on February 15, 2017 and that further shipments would be from Bombardier's Kingston plant.[38][39] The first Flexity Freedom vehicle arrived that month at the Ion maintenance facility, but it could not be tested as its operating software was incomplete. In October 2017, the second LRV arrived in more functional condition.[40] By mid-December 2017, Waterloo Region had 3 LRVs on site.[41]

On December 19, 2017, Waterloo Region had its first successful test of a Flexity Freedom running under its own power at the Ion maintenance facility. The two-hour test was done at the low speed of 10 km/h (6.2 mph). In 2018, testing beyond the maintenance facility started.[41]

On June 21, 2019, regular service began for the system.


Vehicle 1001 showcased in Edmonton during Valley Line LRT construction

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,[6] as opposed to Siemens LRVs (Siemens SD-160 and Siemens–Duewag U2) on the existing Capital and Metro Lines. Where the vehicles built for Ontario have five segments, the vehicles built for Edmonton will be longer, built of seven segments.[4] The first car was shipped on June 27, 2018 (from Kingston, Ontario, on CN Rail) and went up for display at Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre (next to location of the future Valley Line Bonnie Doon stop) on July 27, 2018.[4] The Edmonton LRVs have 82 seats each, 8 doors on each side, and each have a capacity of 275 people.[4] A total of 26 trains are slated to be produced for the line, with 10 due in late 2018, 13 in 2019, and 3 in 2020 (the same year the line is scheduled to open).[42]


It is uncertain whether the Hamilton B-Line LRT will 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.[17]

Peel Region[edit]

The Hurontario LRT, scheduled to start service in 2022 within the City of Mississauga, was to use Flexity Freedom vehicles. However, in September 2016, Metrolinx stated it will allow consortia to include the delivery of light-rail vehicles in their bid to build the line.[17]

Production problems[edit]

By 2016, Metrolinx had inspected Bombardier's plants several times in both Thunder Bay, Ontario and Sahagun, Mexico, and concluded that quality control was "plagued by welding issues as a result of poor training, incorrect procedures, faulty equipment and poor management." Metrolinx also discovered that quality control standards were inconsistent between the two plants.[23]


An Alstom press release said that the order from Metrolinx was for 48.4-metre (159 ft) Citadis Spirit vehicles, the same design as it was supplying for Ottawa's Confederation Line.[43] The Citadis Spirit vehicles are 50% larger than Flexity Freedom vehicles, so transit planners anticipated fewer vehicles would be required. The Citadis vehicles cost $8.7 million each, over twice the average $4.2-million cost of the Flexity vehicles from the original 182-vehicle Metrolinx order, although each Citadis can carry approximately 1.8 times more passengers.[44] However, with the reduction of the initial Metrolinx order from 182 to 76 Flexity Freedom vehicles, the average cost of Flexity Freedom vehicles rose to $5.2 million per vehicle.[24]

Comparison of competing light rail vehicles[44]
Flexity Freedom Citadis Spirit
Supplier Bombardier Alstom
Length 30.8 m 48.4 m
Maximum capacity 251 340
Maximum speed 80 km/h 100 km/h

Metrolinx has ordered competing vehicle fleets from rivals Bombardier and Alstom to service Line 5 Eglinton. However, only one of the two fleets will be used on that line when it opens. To produce the vehicle order for Metrolinx, Alstom plans to build a plant in Brampton, Ontario that will create 100 to 120 full-time direct jobs.[28]

Comparison of vehicle orders for Line 5 Eglinton[44][28]
Flexity Freedom Citadis Spirit
Supplier Bombardier Alstom
Vehicles ordered 76 61
Order value $392 million $528 million
Average cost per vehicle $5.2 million $8.7 million
Vehicles in fleet 76 44[a]
Fleet capacity 12,464 passengers 12,848 passengers
Cost of fleet $392 million $381 million[b]
  1. ^ Although Metrolinx ordered 61 Citadis Spirit cars, only 44 would be required to operate the Eglinton Crosstown line.
  2. ^ The fleet cost for the Citadis Spirit fleet is prorated: 44 (in fleet) ÷ 61 (ordered) * $528 million (order value)


  1. ^ "LRT delayed until spring". Waterloo Region Record. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  2. ^ Fida, Kashmala (July 26, 2018). "First LRV train arrives in Edmonton on time and on budget". StarMetro Edmonton. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "FLEXITY Freedom". Bombardier Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 13, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ramsay, Caley (July 27, 2018). "Edmonton's new Light Rail Vehicle for Valley Line LRT on display". Global News. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "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. October 3, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 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.
  6. ^ a b c "Bombardier Wins Order to Supply Light Rail Transit System for City of Edmonton's Valley Line in Canada". Bombardier Transportation. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Freedom takes Flexity to the North American tram market". Railway Gazette. October 22, 2011. Archived from the original on November 21, 2013. 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.
  8. ^ Munro, Steve (November 10, 2011). "TTC Unveils New Streetcar Design and Mockup". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  9. ^ "Transit City measures up to international standard". Toronto Star. January 6, 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Metrolinx spends $770-million to order 182 LRT vehicles from Bombardier". The Globe and Mail. June 14, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "Metrolinx exercises option for 182 light rail vehicles". Railway Gazette. October 22, 2011. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. 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.
  12. ^ Spurr, Ben (September 28, 2016). "Metrolinx to consider Bombardier competitors for Finch West LRT". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Marowits, Ross (May 20, 2016). "Bombardier shifts production in bid to speed up Toronto streetcar deliveries". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Spurr, Ben (May 24, 2016). "Bombardier delays force Waterloo to push back LRT opening". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Spurr, Ben (July 20, 2016). "Metrolinx threatens legal action over late delivery of light rail vehicles". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  16. ^ Spurr, Ben (September 1, 2016). "Bombardier misses another deadline for Eglinton Crosstown project". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c Spurr, Ben (October 18, 2016). "Metrolinx not counting on Bombardier for new LRT lines". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  18. ^ 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 November 3, 2016.
  19. ^ Moore, Oliver (March 21, 2017). "Time is of the essence in Eglinton Crosstown LRT fight". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  20. ^ Moore, Oliver (February 14, 2017). "Metrolinx rejects Bombardier's claims of laxity in wake of court filing". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  21. ^ Drew, Chris [@chrisjamesdrew] (November 27, 2016). "1st @CrosstownTO Pilot LRV picture. Departed @BombardierRail yesterday. Exciting! Photo credit: Bryan Martyniuk…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ "Bombardier sends Eglinton Crosstown, Finch West LRT test car to Kingston, Ont. for trials". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. November 28, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Spurr, Ben (March 2, 2017). "Metrolinx in talks with another company to replace Bombardier vehicles as fears mount over $500,000 a day late fees". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 12, 2017. 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.
  24. ^ a b c Spurr, Ben (December 21, 2017). "Metrolinx cuts Bombardier vehicle order by more than half". Toronto Star. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  25. ^ Spurr, Ben (May 11, 2017). "Metrolinx to buy vehicles from Bombardier competitor". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 12, 2017. 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.
  26. ^ "Metrolinx Statement On New Bombardier Agreement". Metrolinx. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  27. ^ "Bombardier Transportation Statement on New MetroLinx Agreement". Bombardier Transportation. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  28. ^ a b c Moore, Oliver (December 21, 2017). "Metrolinx slashes $770-million deal with Bombardier". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  29. ^ Spurr, Ben (October 30, 2018). "First Eglinton Crosstown LRT vehicle to be ready in November, Bombardier says". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 30, 2018. The company plans to ship the vehicle to Toronto next month, and has a target of delivering five more by mid-February. It intends to supply the entire fleet of 76 vehicles to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that’s building the Crosstown, in time for the line’s opening.
  30. ^ "Get your first look at the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT vehicles in action". CBC News. October 30, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018. The first LRT for the long-awaited east-west transit line will be delivered in November, with Bombardier set to provide another five by February 2019.
  31. ^ "Bombardier delivers first LRV for Eglinton Crosstown, on track for TTC streetcar delivery". CityNews. January 8, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  32. ^ [1]
  33. ^ Bowen, Douglas John (July 12, 2013). "Waterloo opts for Bombardier LRVs". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 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.
  34. ^ Desmond, Paige (July 11, 2013). "LRT model rolls into Waterloo Region". Kitchener, Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 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.
  35. ^ Desmond, Paige (July 11, 2013). "Region approves purchase of Bombardier LRT trains". Kitchener, Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 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.
  36. ^ Desmond, Paige (May 20, 2016). "Bombardier moves LRT train production to Kingston to keep project on track". Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 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.
  37. ^ Murray, Melissa (February 26, 2016). "Bombardier cuts won't affect delivery of region's LRVs". Kitchener Post. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  38. ^ Barrow, Keith (February 16, 2017). "Bombardier rolls out first LRV for Waterloo". Rail Journal. Retrieved February 16, 2017. 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.
  39. ^ "First ION train shipping from Thunder Bay tomorrow". Region of Waterloo – Municipal. Region of Waterloo. February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  40. ^ "Second Ion train arrives in Waterloo Region". Cambridge Times. October 2, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  41. ^ a b Weidner, Johanna (December 19, 2017). "First powered Ion testing performed". Waterloo Region Record. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  42. ^ Stolte, Elise (July 10, 2017). "Bombardier tour to reassure Edmonton train commitments on track". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  43. ^ "Alstom receives order for 61 Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles for Greater Toronto and Hamilton area". Alstom. May 12, 2017. Retrieved May 12, 2017. 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.
  44. ^ a b c Spurr, Ben (May 13, 2017). "How do TTC's streetcar options compare? It's Bombardier versus Alstom". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 13, 2017.

External links[edit]