Škoda to Propose Streetcars for Toronto

News comes to me that Škoda, one of the streetcar manufacturers who declined to bid on the recent TTC request for proposals, plans to re-enter discussions with the TTC.

At this point, I have no information on what vehicle(s) they might suggest, but a look at their website shows an interesting mix of possibilities.

Tramcar product page

This page shows a range of Škoda’s streetcar products, but does not include their latest 100% low floor model.

Model T15 low floor car

An order for these cars was recently placed for Riga, Latvia according to a press release.  Although the T15 is officially standard gauge (1435mm), the Riga cars will be a wider gauge (1524mm, or 5 feet) leaving Toronto in the middle of the range.

More news on this as and when it develops.

15 thoughts on “Škoda to Propose Streetcars for Toronto

  1. The intereriors looked cramped and see to have low seating capacity.

    Steve: A few points here. First, the width of the Škoda car is shown as 2460mm on the drawing, while a CLRV is somewhere between 2540 and 2590 at a comparable location. 13cm isn’t a lot, but it’s something.

    Second, the interior views show the most congested point, right at the articulation. On the floorplan, you can see how the 2+1 seating layout plus the width taken here gives a cramped look. Compare this to the interior of an ALRV at the articulation joint. I actually think they might do better with some 1+1 seating in the area adjacent to the doors and the articulation to provide more of a vestibule.

    This car is designed for fast loading and unloading with 6 doors along the side, and in a double-ended configuration this would eliminate a lot of seating. For Transit City applications, 3 doors per side might be more appropriate.

    What we see here is a configuration for city operation on an older streetcar network, but this should be easy to adapt to other requirements especially in the order quantities Toronto is looking at.


  2. Finally, we have some good news coming out of this RFP debacle. Skoda has been cited as a good model for Toronto by a number of railfans. Now let’s not sabotage this by putting in too many requirements.


  3. Something about those wooden seats (http://www.skoda.cz/images/1463.jpg) looks so civilised, though possibly not too comfortable if that can be judged by looks alone. In any case, I’m glad to see a bit more competition here, and I truly hope Toronto gets a better tram for it.


  4. Funny coincidence that the stock T15 has the exact same number of seats as an ALRV (61) despite being longer by nearly 1/3.

    Steve: The ALRV has, proportionately, fewer doors, and it also has 2-2 seating in the rear of the car, an area that is typically not well-used.


  5. I had a chance to ride the 10T Trams in Portland a few years back. They were a pretty nice ride. A little shaky, but that could have been due to the track construction, and not the tram themselves.

    I read in the Star today, that Skoda is asking the TTC to forgo the 100% low floor trams. Why do I get the feeling, that the process would go a lot easier if the TTC wasn’t so insistent on 100% low floor trams?


  6. As I recall, Riga had some pretty sharp curves on its system, and it has significant mixed-traffic operation (motor vehicles are dissuaded by coblestone track paving). When I was there (2001) they still used trolley poles as well. I didn’t see any equivalent to the Bathurst hill there, though.


  7. I have a solution to the TTC’s problem with choosing a vehicle especially since it seems like they really want streetcars from Bombardier. Why don’t they use a mixed fleet. You see cities around the world using 2-3 different types of light rail vehicles so why doesn’t Toronto try this. After all you wouldn’t want 300+ vehicles all to be the same and one type of vehicle wouldn’t look right in all the different types of neighbourhoods Toronto has especially in downtown.


  8. While there is an argument to having all your fleet be 1 vehicle (the TTC and it’s Orion VII’s, and the 905 and thier D40LFs) I say that there really must be 2 models. The TTC will, in a few years at this trend, have about 1300 of it’s 1500 buses be Orion VII. What if we find some kind of fault in the bus 10 years down the road? Sure we have a warrenty, but if the problem is widespread do we want A – to send all our buses away (IE they cant run on their routes) and B – to possibly drive Orion out of business due to the endless stream of warrenty reparis (Then who will honour the warrenty) Splitting the fleet (SKODA for the legacy network and Bombardier for Transit City) and allowing overlap (where possible – IE, not in the union loop) is the best soulition IMHO for both worlds.


  9. Having a mixed fleet is a good idea. It would help get the streetcars sooner, since several factories would be producing them. If Bombardier produces all of them, then it will take many, many years if they’re built in Thunder Bay (unless they’re willing to spend millions on an expanded factory which will be idle after 10 years) The advantage of a common fleet in terms of maintenance cost is probably fairly minor given that the total fleet size is so large. It’s possible that having a mixed fleet would be slightly cheaper due to the production facility issue.

    This should have been considered for buses as well, so as to be able to replace the fleet more quickly.


  10. The problem with a mixed fleet is that it removes all the simplicity involved with a single vehicle fleet. What happens in the event there is a backlog (or an accident), and we must divert vehicles? We don’t want to get to a situation where we get stuck because manufacture A’s vehicle can travel on street x but manufacture B’s is unable to.

    The whole point of a single fleet is that it makes it truly idiot proof (judging from the queen car, the simplest answer is the best).


  11. Further, no mixed fleet is really going to save us if a type goes down completely. The difference between loosing half the fleet or all of it is honestly not going to be all that big, either way the system is going to break down more or less completely.


  12. I agree with different streetcar types for different service levels, but believe this can be easily handled by a modular streetcar design. This too is done in Europe, and was done with our CLRVs/ALRVs. Different lengths of streetcar make much more sense, and keeps it one type of streetcar, from one manufacturer.

    I don’t know if this was a requirement in the TTC spec – if not it really should be.

    Also, I can see why the TTC wants 100% low floor cars – for easier passenger movement, and to set a stretch goal to get a more useful streetcar (from the passenger’s point of view), that should be technically feasible.


  13. Mixed versus single type fleets are a common concern in the aviation industry. Southwest Airlines had a rule of thumb that if the number of aircraft of a given type or subtype fell below 25, they eliminated it entirely as their spares, training and maintenance economics regime demanded it.

    Airlines like Ryanair who fly 166 737-800s and nothing else must adopt both very specific strategies to develop new markets and run the risk of the chaos that affected American Airlines in March when they had to ground 300 MD-80s.

    I think a fleet of 204 streetcars is enough in its own right without requiring it to be over similar to the TC fleet, especially as 204 is only likely to be enough to replace the existing 250 CLRV/ALRVs and more will likely be needed to cover Cherry, Queens Quay East, Western Waterfront and a possible Portlands-Broadview route or an Eastern Avenue route.


  14. Tram Power has been following the up’s and down’s for the TTC procurement process. We are still sore for being excluded on a commercial technicality last June, when we were one of the only two bidders. Now that TTC has chosen Bombarier at a cost of $1300million, we have written to the parties concerned to remind them of our offer , including 50% value added in Ontario and lower cost.:

    “Cllr. Adam Giambrone, 5th May 2009
    Toronto Transit Commission,
    1900 Yonge Street,
    TORONTO M4S 1Z2,
    Canada by fax 00 1 416 392-7957

    Dear Chairman,
    Re: 204No. Streetcars
    Since this company submitted in June 2008 one of only two bids to supply new streetcars for Toronto, we have been following closely the subsequent developments in their procurement. We understand that Bombardier, the other bidder in June 2008, has offered to supply this order for $1300million but that the Provincial Government has questioned its contribution to the costs.
    TRAM Power Ltd offered to supply 204 Streetcars to TTC’s demanding specification for $950million, or our technically compliant but different City Class Streetcar for $560million. We also promised to add 50% of the value of this order in Ontario. We have had discussions with companies in the Burlington area, and earlier with Bombardier, to join forces for a JV to supply our cost effective and advanced design streetcar.
    In terms of value for money and support for Canada’s manufacturers, the TRAM Power offer is surely the most satisfactory ? We would be happy as part of a cost reduction exercise, to supply a small fleet of City Class Streetcars for trial against the offers from other manufacturers. This would allow a full evaluation of the alternatives, and get feedback from passengers and operating staff, without prejudicing the full delivery by the original date in 2012.
    We are ready to meet your staff to discuss this further.
    Yours sincerely,

    Prof. Lewis Lesley
    Technical Director

    cc. John Baird, Jim Bradley”


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