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Mock low-floor Green Line LRV unveiled by Calgary Transit

The vehicle will operate exclusively on the Green Line for now, as they aren't built for the higher raised platforms on Calgary Transit's Red and Blue Lines.

Calgarians get their first look at the new low-floor LRT model that will be used on the $5.5 billion Green Line when it opens.

One year ago, the Green Line Board and the City of Calgary awarded a contract for 28 light-rail vehicles (LRV) to Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). On Tuesday, the Green Line team unveiled a mock-up of the Urbos 100 low-floor vehicle at their Anderson garage.

After shipping from Barcelona, travelling through seven countries and porting in Seattle, the mock up has already seen some miles. Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti said it was an exciting day.

“I mean, sometimes people may see this as one small milestone for us. It’s a pretty big one,” Bhatti said.  

“There’s been years of planning that’s been behind this program. Just so to have something tangible and real behind us is a for me is a very positive step forward.”

The Green Line is currently in the process of doing underground utility work in the downtown and Beltline. The RFP is also out, with two different conglomerates who were accepted now bidding on the project.

The full vehicle is 40 metres in length, said Bhatti. (The mockup is only 12 metres.) That’s much longer than the current higher platform cars in the system. There will likely be two cars for each train, and each car holds 288 people.

The seating is different than the current cars, with raised areas to make way for the vehicle wheels. There is a single door at the front near the driver area and a double opening doors along the body for wheeled entry (strollers, wheelchairs and bikes).

The mock up is built primarily of steel, wood and plastic and includes a combination of real and simulated components representative of the actual LRV.

Advantage of the low floor cars

A mockup of the new Green Line Light Rail Vehicle in Calgary on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The Green Line station design is more integrated into the community. That’s compared to the raised, structured platform style of the current Red and Blue lines.

Bhatti said they wanted less intrusive infrastructure that didn’t have massive ramps and platforms. That opened the door to the low-floor train models – which are becoming more prevalent in the urban transit world.

“The objective is we want to vehicle as part of our overall fleet that can integrate well with the future neighbourhoods that we’re going to be serving,” he said.

“The other advantage of having low floor vehicles as they are more pedestrian friendly and accessible. It’s easy for someone with a mobility aid to get into the vehicle much, much more easily.”

The LRV and station design goes hand-in-hand, Bhatti said. They didn’t design one specifically for the other. That’s for good reason, too, he said. Projects that he’s seen before had the car built much later in the process and that presented civil construction design challenges they had to overcome.

That means a retrofit of the infrastructure or the vehicle and that can be costly.

“I think both went hand in glove,” he said.

The city identified that as a risk factor early on. This process allows them to see the car and work with it in conjunction with design to avoid any problems down the track.

They will continue to fine tune both the design of the infrastructure and the cars to ensure the smoothest transition, Bhatti said.

Mock up benefit

Bhatti said the mock up of the new LRV was a part of the CAF contract.

Beyond the low-floor advantages, there are other operational advantages to having a mock up of the new LRV.

“The intent is not to just scrap this after we have the real vehicles arrive,” he said.

It can be used by emergency first responders for training purposes. They can also be used for training future operators on the new LRV set up, he said.

The public will also get their opportunity to check out the new vehicles from cockpit to closing doors at various points in the coming months.

There is one disadvantage in that these cars will not be interchangeable on the Blue and Red Lines. Some critics in the past have pointed to that as a flaw in how the Green Line project is being rolled out.

A mockup of the new Green Line Light Rail Vehicle in Calgary on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

More to come…