Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bombardier Flexity Freedom

with 6 comments

Bombardier has a mock up of the streetcar Light Rail Vehicle they are building for Toronto at Granville Island. Not at the DHR station, of course, which remains out of use – or even the Olympic Village station where they mounted a pre-Olympic event for the Brussels cars they brought here. This one is wider (2.65m) with two by two seating. And it is mounted on a truck chassis – so it is not quite as good a demonstration of its “low floor” quality as it might be.

"Freedom: Riding the winds of change"

The mock up has doors both sides – and a mirror at the back to make it appear double ended. The Toronto streetcar is single ended with doors on one side only as it uses turning loops at termini.

Front end

The real thing is low floor (about 30cm): the model – erm – not quite

Front end with stairs

Curiously this blind spot about the door mechanism cover also affected Rotem/Canada Line for its showcase

I think you forgot something

As you can see from this image the claim that this car is “100% low-floor, entirely step free interior” is not strictly true. There is a step to the floor between the seats over the front axle – you can see the yellow warning strip clearly in this image even at the size it appears on the blog page. The two by two seating is clearly better than the narrow Brussels cars that were here for the Olympic Line

You had privileged acces, and you still couldn't get out of the way

There is a wide clear area next to the door for mobility devices – and no doubt the cyclists will commandeer that if they can. In Paris it is the strollers that fill this area. And the sharp eyed will note that Mike Shiffer was an early bird visitor too.


Visitors were offered a cardboard push out model of their own


Now I do want to be fair, but it does seem to me that Bombardier could have made a bit more of an effort. It is true that this event is the second go here – they were out in Cloverdale, in Surrey for Canada Day. Maybe there was more organization there. There were media around today, and I am sure that the mainstream guys got their quotes and sound bites. But there were others, like me, who had their cameras and questions at the ready, even if they did not carry press credentials. They did have, on board, a full size brochure. One of the sales people dug one out when asked a question (about the hight of the step) that he did not know. The brochure went back into the carton with all the others. Of course you can get the info on line – but why keep the story from those who want to know?

Brochure PDF file

Giving adults a postcard and a cardboard model seems to me to be a bit cavalier. Especially when the card reads

“The streetcars that Bomardier will deliver to Toronto …”

But didn’t they want this referred to as an LRV? And how hard would it be to remove the stickers on the model that referred to the TTC? Yes I know the model and the publicity material was created for that market – and the western Canada is getting the benefit of the left overs. But Edmonton and Calgary both have light rail systems – and seem wedded to Siemens – one worth making an effort for, I think.

And I am also unconvinced about the claim “Combination of 100% low-floor technology and conventional axle wheel-set bogies for a significantly smoother ride”. There was nothing wrong with the ride on the T2 and T3 trains I rode on in Paris recently – and they both have flat floors due to “unconventional” axles. Smoother than what? They are also Alsthom-Bombardier products (Citadis). The floor of the mock up was definitely sloped over some quite significant areas  – so I hope they have got the tie down issue sorted for passengers who are in wheeled devices.

I have now deleted the Bombardier press release – but I copied this snippet in case it proves useful to someone

 More information about Bombardier FLEXITY Freedom is available at:

Interior Citadis T2 tramway Paris

Interior Citadis T2 tramway Paris – my photo on flickr

To illustrate the discussion in the comments section, this is the competitor from Alsthom, the Citadis used in Paris and many other french systems. The floor is both low and flat since it does not have conventional bogies.


UPDATE 22 November 2012 CTV now has pictures of the new TTC streetcars 

Written by Stephen Rees

July 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the post….
    Bombardier was sure stingy as this partial mock-up will not excite the people that have never used tramways (as us Europeans still call them, regardless of their size) and will frustrate the trams nerds like me.

    For my money and becasue I have used them in several towns, I much prefer the Citadis from Alstom.

    Red frog

    July 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

  2. I am hurt that you did not include my photos of the Citadis trams used in Paris on T2 and T3 😉

    Stephen Rees

    July 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

  3. Having sampled various trams in places like Freiburg and Augsburg that don’t use bogies, I’d suggest the ride is pretty comfortable with or without. I’m certainly with you on that unfortunate hill in the floor between the seats over the bogies.

    Andy in Germany

    July 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

  4. Stephen…I didn’t think I was allowed to do it without your permission!! I hope you are gently pulling my leg..

    Red frog

    July 7, 2012 at 11:52 am

  5. That was why I included an emoticon – the little smiley face is winking! All my photos on flickr carry a Creative Commons license to encourage their use for non-commercial purposes.

    Stephen Rees

    July 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

  6. Oddly, Bombardier and Metrolinx/TTC did not put on any better a show here. I thought it was more related to the fact they had a contract in hand, and the Toronto council was still in the throes of the LRT debate. I guess it’s their PR style.

    I think the combination of narrower aisles (current streetcars seat 2 + 1), uneven floors and TTC policy of running standing room service at all times will be a big problem.

    From what the TTC says, all bogies must be powered (necessitating the hump) in order to climb existing grades and navigate single point switches. The suburban LRT version will be double-ended, slightly wider and not require all bogies to be power as the routes will be engineered with lower grades. Hopefully that improves things.

    Michael Collens

    July 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

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