Light Rail Vehicle on James North for Supercrawl

Metrolinx is showing off a light rail vehicle on James North in front of Lister Block.

By RTH Staff
Published September 11, 2015

Here are the photos of a real-life light rail transit vehicle on James Street North that you have been waiting for:

LRT vehicle on display on James Street North in front of Lister Block (Image Credit: Jason Leach)
LRT vehicle on display on James Street North in front of Lister Block (Image Credit: Jason Leach)

LRT vehicle, view from front (Image Credit: Jason Leach)
LRT vehicle, view from front (Image Credit: Jason Leach)

The vehicle is a Bombardier Flexity Freedom, the vehicle Metrolinx has chosen to buy for the new GTHA LRT systems: Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West in Toronto, Hurontario-Main in Missisauga/Brampton and B-Line in Hamilton. The Ion LRT in Waterloo Region is also using the Flexity Freedom. They are being built at Bombardier's Thunder Bay manufacturing centre.

The LRT vehicles are on display as part of Supercrawl 2015, which kicks off today on a three-day festival of music, performance, art, food, fashion, lecture series, culture and general awesomeness.

Last year, 165,000 people came to Supercrawl 2014, and we can expect an amazing turnout again this year. Of course, you need room for all those people, and a number of downtown streets have been closed to automobile traffic - that is to say, opened to human traffic - for the weekend:

The best way to get to Supercrawl is on a Hamilton Bike Share bike, of course, but depending on where you're coming from, there are lots of ways to arrive in safety and comfort.


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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 11, 2015 at 14:17:15

Super cool!

Can we have a track building bee down James Street? It would make great performance art.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 11, 2015 at 16:14:50

The Flexity vehicles apparently automatically count the number of passengers:

"The vehicles are equipped with counters, which keep track of how many passengers they are carrying."

This will be a huge benefit in optimizing service and measuring passenger growth. Currently, planning at HSR is hindered by the fact they have no way to measure the number of passengers, apart from very rarely having people actually counting boarding passengers!

The Flexity can apparently also be run "catenary free" (i.e. no overhead wires) using induction loops in the pavement. Maybe this could be done in the downtown core, as in Bordeaux's Alstom APSL system.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-09-11 16:20:53

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 19:49:10

We're starting up a citizen Hamilton LRT advocacy at and

For now, it is early. We're having someone design a new logo and website. However, we just started tweeting this month. Goals will also include helping advocate the Hamilton LRT to a soft landing, with minimum overall tension -- for citizens, for businesses, for construction, etc.

It also cover mythbusting of common LRT myths. On very common myth is the claim of being unidirectional and completely unable to detour. The modern LRT cars that Hamiltonn chose, are fully reversible (driver cabs at both ends of LRT vehicle) and can switch tracks (at crossovers) between two parallel tracks to get around obstructions. This behavior is more similar to European LRTs and Calgary C-Train, than the TTC streetcar system.

At some point in the coming months, we're going to invite citizens once the site is more set up -- for now, follow the ham_lrt Twitter account -- as we start setting things up. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Hamilton LRT Twitter

Our future website will be

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-11 20:02:56

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By Susie (registered) | Posted September 11, 2015 at 21:22:50

Can't wait to ride the beluga. Guppy? Fish?

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By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted September 12, 2015 at 21:09:51

this is positive and absolutely necessary to help implement this system and to help dispel myths

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted September 13, 2015 at 12:02:43

Mythbusting LRT haters is a good goal but many sites already do this and I have found that these sights generally preach to the converted. My idea would be to have a section of your website that actively challenges and goes directly to the sites both local and national pro car or anti transit a and confronts them. I do agree that education of anti LRT and neutral Hamiltonian is a must. You guys have won the right to challenge directly.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2015 at 11:59:34 in reply to Comment 113861

Mythbusting LRT is not going to be always the primary goal, but it is a placeholder at the moment while we start up. Currently, our group is obtaining a new logo and site design, and want to have citizens from /all/ wards engage in a neutral and positive manner.

I'm not the only one in the #HamLRT group, there are some more skeptical citizens who are joining the discussion (ones who are fully behind the goal of bringing the LRT -- but disagree on some 'details' like construction detours, main 1-way vs 2-way, and other 'controversial' topics that needs positive citizen engagemennt) as part of our group. We've got a great batch of people already waiting in the wings, and will invite more once it's more set up! We weren't going to launch till 2016 but with the LRT mockup arriving at Supercrawl, and also important decisions being made this year, it was a good time to accelerate things along.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-14 12:05:40

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2015 at 14:29:13

I heard some complaints that the flexity trams in Toronto have seating that's a bit uncomfortable. I haven't had the chance to see the suoercrawl one - anybody see how the seating looks?

Other thing I noticed on Cannon on Friday - Queen is quite the bottleneck when traffic is routed off King.

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By Keih (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2015 at 18:01:57 in reply to Comment 113862

The ones currently on Toronto streetcars are Flexity Outlooks whereas these LRT vehicles are Flexitty Feedom.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 13, 2015 at 22:10:51 in reply to Comment 113862

hmm, that's weird because Main St is 5 lanes wide and can easily handle the westbound overflow when King is closed. Oh wait......

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2015 at 12:07:54 in reply to Comment 113863

Yes, the Main 2-way debate is going to be a difficult one.

That said, I have confirmed from Jason Thorne (when I met him at the supercrawl meet "Let's Talk LRT" yesterday at 5:30), that the LRT plans are able to proceed with either a Main 1-way or 2-way, so it is in theory possible to postpone that debate, although various different people would prefer something be decided prior.

For the purposes of the LRT advocacy which has to encompasses wards even outside ours, I have to be neutral and listen to all sides, as other people in the advocacy also agree with them (keeping Main 1-way).

In our advocacy, it is also our goals we all agree LRT proceed quickly on time (2017 procurement of contracts, 2019 construction) to make it pretty much cancellation-resistant. Even if we disagree on some details amongst ourselves -- like the controversial topic of Main 1-way and 2-way.

Jason Thorne seems to very well understand the sensitivity of this issue, and confirmed the city will be doing computerized traffic modellings of all possible solutions.

I certainly understand all sides, even if I have difficulty agreeing with some sides, and longtimers already know where my preferences lie for Main St. But I now have to listen since I'm working with people who sometimes disagree with me on the nitty-gritty bits.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-14 12:26:20

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 14, 2015 at 12:57:05 in reply to Comment 113866

only a backwards city like Hamilton would even consider leaving a parallel street 1-way, carrying 2 lanes worth of traffic through most of it's route, with 5 actual lanes available.
It's a no-brainer to convert Main to two-way prior to LRT construction and thereby avoiding much of impact brought on by construction.
Main, Wilson, Sherman and Bay all need to go two-way, and all carry far fewer vehicles than their lane allowances can handle. This will create a 2-way road network for drivers/transit while King is out of service.

But knowing Hamilton, we'll leave them all one way, empty most of the time, so we can complain that there's 'no way to get across the city with King being reduced'.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2015 at 13:24:34 in reply to Comment 113868

Regarding "backwards city", I would like to disagree with that. Perhaps historically it may have been fine to call Hamilton a backwards city. I can understand too!

Hamilton successfully converted several streets to two-way, including James Street North (and we know Jason Thorne is pro 2-way). Something that some other cities did not do. There are many Canadian cities that did not do 2-way conversions; lest other cities like American cities. Here in hamilton, I think we can certainly continue the progress in an incremental manner, and I would certainly be in the camp of Main 2-way (as a detour); but obviously as one of the leader of the #HamLRT advocacy, we've got to let voices be heard, have people be glad they expressed themselves publicly, and let the better individuals in the city make decisions.

Remember, we have 10 years, that is pretty much half a generation for population to get comfortable with change -- it is not literally overnight -- so what might be difficult today may even be easier tomorrow especially when people realize how more-subway-convenience the Hamilton LRT is, with the traffic-separation / more predictable and convenient / daisychainable(up to 4 cars/20 segments) / green-lights-synchronized / subway-style-stop-spacing (1-2km), that Hamilton LRT actually is, compared to the slower TTC streetcars.

Stepping back with the whole world in the picture (from London to Syria, from Boston to Greece, from Beijing to Los Angeles), Hamilton is actually surprisingly more progressive than many Canadian citizens.

Calgary got a crosstown bike lane later than Hamilton. We were first!

Vancouver doesn't even have bikeshare at all. We were first!

And as much as we all (myself included) like to complain about infrastructure, it's worth noting to look at our nearby city of love/hate -- and their previous mayor who went by "Rob Ford". We even out-Twitter Toronto at the moment (#hamont advocacies such as YesWeCannon, to mayor/councillor engagement directly with citizens) so that is on one angle of viewpoint, pretty progressive. With the LRT, let's focus on the positive; we got awarded it and as citizen advocates, help advocate it to a successful soft landing on time.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-14 13:56:54

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 14, 2015 at 20:04:33 in reply to Comment 113869

oh don't get me wrong. I love the Hammer and agree that many citizens and local groups are very forward thinking. It's the fortress at city hall that constantly proves to be the obstacle. Cannon Bike lanes happened because of citizen campaign, not city hall. Bike share is probably the best example of both working together. LRT was literally forced onto us by the province, IN SPITE of city hall trying to turn it down. Yes, Fred deserves HUGE props for his last minute intervention, but it was only necessary thanks to the gong show at city hall the prior 4 years.

I hear you with respect to bike share in Vancouver, but they are light years ahead of us in cycling infrastructure. Like, embarrassingly ahead of us. Only reason they don't have bike share is because of BC's ridiculous helmet law.

We converted two streets to 2-way 15 years ago and both have blossomed back to life very nicely. So what have we done since? Nothing. If fact, many don't know this, but there is a document at city hall planning to introduce a proposal to the public one of these years on reverting them back to 1-way. I've discussed it with a couple of the authors. This may explain why the HSR continues to treat both streets like they are 1-way pairs. (or that could just be because the HSR is totally inept. Lol)

Point is, we are moving forward too often in spite of city hall, not because of it. I think Jason Thorne is a fantastic, refreshing change. Can we drag the rest of them a few decades forward? Time will tell.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2015 at 03:43:18 in reply to Comment 113871

Good point about Vancouver. However, we are still actually more progressive with bikes than several Canadian cities -- including Calgary. There are cities that have ripped out their bike infrastructure, like Beijing, China -- and are only now backpedalling to reinstalling them after the world's worst rush hours happening.

And, as an LRT advoacy group, we all want to help it happen. We have a very good feeling that we can get this moving forward on time. Some in the city hall is now paying attention to our twitter account, and some high level people have retweeted some of our tweets already! Whether or not all citizens likes their elected representatives or not, we still all have to work together to get the LRT moving forward.

The spiffy new logo is getting there -- we love it -- keep tuned for the logo launch (and the -official- website launch too!)

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-15 03:50:11

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2015 at 09:21:34 in reply to Comment 113872

are you familiar with this group:

Could be worth meeting so duplicate work/websites aren't undertaken for the same cause.
Agreed on working with city hall to get us over the hump. Here's hoping.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2015 at 10:05:39 in reply to Comment 113873

Already covered -- Some members of the old group including Ryan and others have endorsed going ahead with the citizen advocacy. I met/emailed/chatted with about 15 different citizens, activists(this site and similar) & city representatives, including my ward's Matthew Green (one-on-one in-person meeting with a neighbour) to ensure we're not duplicating existing efforts. and aren't mutually exclusive. The former worked really, really hard for many years to help get the LRT to funded status.

The messy stuff actually begins. A very different mandate than the original group. There are so many details that can bog down the LRT. With passionate issues that sometimes all of us citizens agree and/or disagree on

Examples -- such as station locations like near that new school at the stadium, construction detours, business construction disruption, revitalization, mixed income developments, landlord concerns (We have roomrent friends too), parallel brainstorms/suggestions such as SoBi stations near LRT stations, things like possibly help advocate HSR bus route modifications to fit LRT, making sure we don't miss opportunities to improve Hamilton, etc, including way out to the outer areas. The talk of extensions may even occur a bit early (e.g. A-Line, Mountain, Dundas, Stoney Creek) as what is being built is a starter subset of a long-term B.L.A.S.T. network, and we cannot be a downtown-only discussion or an unfair club-of-downtowners; even though the funded starter LRT are the B-Line/A-Line subsets. There are several tonnes of subjects related to the LRT (directly or indirectly) that are going to emerge in citizens' minds as the 2016-2017 dates approach. As we launch this provides a way for citizens to join and voice many LRT and LRT-related issues.

Despite any disagreements on these little details, a major general goal and agreement amongst the citizen LRT advocacy is to bring the LRT to a soft landing in Hamilton on time (2017 procurement, 2019 construction), without delay -- to make it cancellation resistant. We disagree sometimes on "details" even if we all want the LRT. But we all realize that we can potentially lose the LRT otherwise in a government change.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-15 10:49:05

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2015 at 10:18:59 in reply to Comment 113874

excellent. Sounds great!

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2015 at 11:01:19

My concern is that the light rail vehicle had no wheels. I don't think we can afford mag lev yet. ;)

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2015 at 12:16:36 in reply to Comment 113864

...On the other hand, it is now 2015, in "Back To The Future Part II" parlance. I wonder if levitators becomes available this year as the movie prophesied ;-)

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted September 15, 2015 at 17:48:19

I sat in one this past weekend. It was mostly filled with people who were trying to stay dry during the downpours at dinnertime on Saturday.

It was nice. There were displays and someone there to answer questions. When we first saw it, we thought it was a bus that was there either to provide temporary shelter or to show off the HSR.

Seats were not uncomfortable - the felt like a normal bus seat. More legroom though and the seating arrangement was more conducive to sitting in groups and easily talking.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted September 16, 2015 at 09:46:22

Bombardier's "Mock UP" Light Rail Vehicle is a 2 section approximation of the Flexity family of LRV's. The Flexity family of products can come in 3, 5 and 7 section models. Transit operators can add sections to existing vehicles if needed locally, no need to go back to the factory. The TTC's Flexity Outlook Streetcars share about 90% of the parts of the Flexity Freedom Light Rail Vehicle. This is common practice for LRT providers selling in North America to offer a standard platform "The Flexity Family of LRV's but have individual sub models like the Flexity Classic, Classic #2, Freedom, Outlook and others. In this case, the Outlook and Freedom sub models are marketed directly to North America because we have different LRV weight and crash worthiness standards than Europe, Asia and Australia, where the Classic, Classic #2 and several other sub models have been sold. Over 3000 Flexity LRV's have been delivered or are "on order".

Siemens has multiple designs for LRV's world wide but Market the S70/S200 models for North America specifically. The S70 is the low floor model and the S200 is the high floor model. Calgary's S200's will begin to arrive in 2016. They however, will arrive in Calgary fully complete not in unassembled sections.

Alstom's successful Citadis family of LRV's (2000+ LRV's delivered or "on order" worldwide), have also a special model for North America only, the Citadis Spirit, it is a modified type 302 Citadis. Ottawa's Confederation Line LRV's are part of the Citadis Spirit subgroup. Like Bombardier you can get different lengths of Citadis Spirit LRV's from Alstom, in this case 4 lengths are available, a 30 Metre long 3 section LRV, a 37 Metre long 3 section LRV (the centre section of 37 long LRV is longer than on the 30 metre long LRV), a 4 section 48-49 Metre long LRV (Ottawa's current Choice) and a 5 section 59 Metre long LRV. The last is what Ottawa will use when passenger levels reach a certain level on the Confederation line.

The extra 5th section is easily added inside your local LRV maintenance facility (no factory needed). It is currently planned that the 4 section Citadis Spirit LRV's for Ottawa will be delivered in sections and their final assembly will be completed at the Confederation Line maintenance facility, which officially opens next month. The first LRV sections are set to arrive in early October for final assembly, the whole line however, will not officially open till 2018. There are 34 LRV's in total and will normally operate in 2 car trains that hold a maximum of 600 passengers (300 passengers per 4 section LRV). A maximum of 15 2 car trains will run during peak hours (there will be 2 more trains ready in case of breakdown). Ottawa has an option of up to 6 more LRV's (3 full trains) per year till 2022 at a guaranteed price. An extra 6 LRV's will also be available at a guaranteed price by the 18 month point (March 2020) if necessary. The final assembly of these LRV's will also occur in Ottawa at the local maintenance facility.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2015 at 10:00:32 in reply to Comment 113890

Thanks for the interesting information!

I should also add that the Flexity Freedoms are daisychainable into a train of up to 4 vehicles long. Similiar to how Calgary's C-Train does it (3 LRT vehicles daisychained). This is not needed at this time in Hamilton, but it is something technically possible.

I am interested to learn more about the history of LRTs in certain cities such as Calgary, and the fine details of their year-to-year LRT progression. I believe they started with single LRT vehicles, until traffic grew too big. From under 10,000 people per day in 1981 (less than Hamilton's B-Line Express bus), all the way to 325,000 people per day today. Along the way, at some point, Calgary needed to daisychain a train of 3 vehicles to move more people.

Now Calgary's LRT has become subway-length, about one average downtown city block long, even when riding through surface crossings! I understand that they had to redo the stations for a block-long train of LRT vehicles!

Whether this happens someday to any of Hamilton's future LRT lines, is unknown, but we do have that option the subway-style behavior of the Calgary C-Train too.

I also hope that Bombardier's delivery delays affecting the TTC vehicles, do not affect deliveries for the half-dozen new LRT lines now funded, and some now well under construction, throughout Ontario.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-16 10:05:41

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted September 17, 2015 at 12:06:29

Actually Calgary has got 4 car consists on one line and is preparing the entire system for 4 car consists by lengthening older station platforms. When there S200 vehicles arrive they will have 4 car consists (trains) that are almost 120 metres long. Not quite as long as a Toronto or Montreal Subway/Metro consists but longer than a few smaller ones in Clevland, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore and some Philadelphia lines. These LRT consists are also longer than some the smaller subway consists in the New York or New Jersey area. This is the advantage in cost per vehicle that rail systems have. If you build long enough station platforms ahead of time, you can have continual growth in the size of your LRT consists and thus greater efficiency without having to add extra LRV operators. You my need a few more maintenance people but as long as you have enough storage space even small LRT systems with a bit of design forethought can be allowed to grow over time to eventually become a pretty major passenger moving operation. Other people I work within the industry tell me that it is usually, although not always in every case, better to start with 2 car operation and avoid single car consist operations. Due to higher operational complexity/cost maintenance measures and operational tempo issues with single car operation, than with 2 car operation in starter rail systems.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 17, 2015 at 15:20:48 in reply to Comment 113905

That is interesting!

This could be a topic of discussion, as final station design haven't yet occured. Whether to make our stations compatible with 2-car consists, is going to be a question we will ask ourselves. I do not think it's yet worth building for 3-car consists, considering we might have to share the road in some sections (e.g. International Village).

But even with 1-car operation (5-segment ) necessary as we wait for Bombardier to manufacture the LRTs, we should still make the stations compatible with 2-car consists (10-segment) for operational flexibility.

Longer consists of LRTs often require more dedicated ROW, but even Calgary's LRT runs their consists through intersections and level crossings. I do see a good reason to keep the door open to 2-car consists, as they would be beneficial during peak, during McMaster University surges, and during stadium events.

If ridershop rockets past predictions as many of us think it will, then the talk of running 2-car consists may happen earlier than expected, especially if extensions are later approved (e.g. Stoney Creek, Dundas, A-Line going up mountain).

Personally (even if not everybody within the citizen initiative) -- I believe the best-performing LRT outcome and maximum ridership is the proposed complete traffic-separation of the LRT, which automatically requires a pedestrian-only International Village -- see this proposal here considering the large condo expansion in the next 10 years. This is something possibly viable in 10 years; a half a generation. That said, I recognize this is a controversial issue.

Change is very hard to rush along. Even pro-LRT Hamiltonian citizens disagree on the 'details'; how the LRT should arrive, when, where, traffic, etc. As a group of citizens advocating for LRT, it's our aim to listen to each other and work together quickly to make sure that our disagreements don't derail the 2017 procurement and 2019 construction dates. Some compromises (even to myself) may end up needing to occur, but we do have to start somewhere, and make sure it's a wise use of taxpayer money too.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-17 15:29:41

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted September 21, 2015 at 09:49:05

One of the reason one car operation is avoided with new LRT operations is because of maintenance issues. If Hamilton is getting the Bombardier Flexity LRV (which seems likely), the operator, HSR is going to have to deal with a vehicle that has 3 trucks or bogies (the metal frame box that has the wheels). 2 of them are powered the centre one is not. The electric "Can" motors are mounted each side on the outside of the truck or bogie frame, 2 motors per truck. This allows quick and easy access to replace motors, the vehicle does not have to be separated from the truck and the frame raised by a hydraulic body frame jack. This process alone can take 30-45 minutes, the removal of the truck and the actual removal of the interior mounted electric motors by auto motive crane and jack. With most modern LRV's a single person walks up and tests the motor with a simple smart voltage/amp/resistance metre. It simply plugs into a free plug connected from the motor. If the motor needs to be replaced 2 plugs are unplugged and a power driver removes 4 pentagon shaped screws and bolt sets which, requires an expensive specialized head attachment (a security and a anti vandalism measure) and a simple but specialized pump truck is raised up into position and the old motor slides off and is slid onto the pump truck and it is taken away for service or disposal. A new motor is mounted on the pump truck and simply is slid into place. Screws reattached plugs plugged and you are done. simply test the new motor and bobs your uncle.

Single car operation has issues when a motor or drive system component breaks down while the vehicle is operating. If a single motor fails total engine output drops 20%-35%, the reason there is up to another 15% drop in available power is because of increased electrical resistance. With single car operation, this will considerably slow down the lamed vehicle and thus the entire line. With 2 car operation, there is by nature extra motor power available the loss of a single motor does not as severely effect the train. Thus the lamed 2 car consist has a much greater amount of power to draw on and will not as severly effect the whole lines operation.

Another drawback with single car operation is the tendency for a culture to develop in the operations areas to increase frequency instead of adding cars onto trains to add capacity. We have long told people that frequency can be the most important thing to attract ridership in transit operations however, with rail vehicles increasing frequency adds in much greater costs than a extra or extra set of vehicles in service. The need to add operators when decreasing frequency has big operational costs. Frequency up grades have significant maintenance costs to them as well. The disruption of the maintenance schedule of adding a extra vehicle or multiple car consist have the tendency to vastly increase maintenance costs. That's why with many US LRT operators its much cheaper to add another car to a consist to increase passenger carrying capacity than to lower the frequency. Sacramento for example has only one train every 15 minutes per direction on each line but as of September 2013, operated consists that are made up of 4 vehicles. There station platforms allow 4 vehicle trains and have since the late 1980's. In some cases a 5th vehicle is possible at some suburban stations. I do not know if they plan to increase electrical capability and the other station platform lengths to accommodate longer trains.

Keeping in mind that, electrical capacity is usually the hidden limiting factor in any rail system. The need to add extra transformers or increase the capacity of existing ones is often the most hotly contested thing about electric rail transit due to the environmental issues with the dialectric material in the transformers. Even with the newer wireless systems, you need even more transformers.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2015 at 09:27:58 in reply to Comment 113926

Thanks for the further insight!

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