Canadian Light Rail Vehicle

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CLRV 4059 Glamour Shot.jpg
A College–Carlton car crosses the Main Street Bridge
Manufacturer L1: SIG
Constructed 1977–1981[1]
Number built 196
Number in service 125[1]
Number scrapped 71
Fleet numbers L1: 4000–4005
L2: 4010–4199
Capacity 42–46 seated*,[1] 132 crush load
*during rebuilds 4 seats removed
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Depot(s) Roncesvalles, Russell (Connaught)
Line(s) served Toronto Streetcar System
Car length 15.226 m (49 ft 11 in)[2]
Width 2.540 m (8 ft 4 in)
(2.591 m or 8 ft 6 in over rub rails)[2]
Height 3.625 m (11 ft 11 in)[2]
Floor height 1.125 m (3 ft 8 in)[2]
Platform height curb height or level with rail head
Entry 4 steps (3 risers inside plus step up from outside)
Doors 2 (1 dual bi-fold front door; 2 paired double leaf rear doorways)
Articulated sections (Rigid Body)
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Weight 22,685 kg (50,012 lb)
Power output 2 x 136 kW (182 hp) continuous
Acceleration 1.47 m/s2 (4.8 ft/s2) or 5.3 km/(h⋅s); 3.3 mph/s
Deceleration 1.6 m/s2 (5.2 ft/s2) or 5.8 km/(h⋅s); 3.6 mph/s
Emergency: 3.46 m/s2 (11.4 ft/s2) or 12.5 km/(h⋅s); 7.7 mph/s
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Overhead trolley wire
Current collection method Trolley pole
Minimum turning radius 36 ft (10.973 m)
Braking system(s) Air (Westinghouse Air Brake Company)
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) – TTC gauge
TTC Bombardier ALRV 4239.jpg
Manufacturer MAN and UTDC
Urban Transportation Development Corporation
Constructed 1982
Number built 1 prototype
52 standard
Number in service 0 (p)
20 (s)[1]
Number scrapped 1 (p)
32 (s)
Fleet numbers 4900 (prototype)
4200–4251 (standard)[1]
Capacity 61 seated,[1] 205 crush load
Operator(s) Toronto Transit Commission
Line(s) served Toronto Streetcar System
Car length 23.164 m (76 ft 0 in)[4]
Width 2.540 m (8 ft 4 in)
(2.591 m or 8 ft 6 in over rub rails)[4]
Height 3.626 m (11 ft 11 in) to roof; roof equipment additional[4]
Floor height 1.125 m (3 ft 8 in)[2]
Platform height curb height or level with rail head
Entry 4 steps (3 risers inside plus step up from outside)
Doors 3
Articulated sections 1 section with 2 articulations
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)[3]
Weight 36,745 kg (81,009 lb)
Power output 4 x 65 kW (87 hp) continuous
Acceleration 1.2 m/s2 (3.9 ft/s2) or 4.3 km/(h⋅s); 2.7 mph/s
Deceleration 1.6 m/s2 (5.2 ft/s2) or 5.8 km/(h⋅s); 3.6 mph/s
Emergency: 3.13 m/s2 (10.3 ft/s2) or 11.3 km/(h⋅s); 7.0 mph/s
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Overhead trolley wire
Current collection method Trolley pole
Minimum turning radius 36 ft (10.973 m)
Braking system(s) Air (Westinghouse Air Brake Company)
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm) – TTC gauge

The Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) is a streetcar used by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). They have been the prevalent rolling stock on the Toronto streetcar system since the late 1970s. Two variants have been produced and are in use: the standard, single-module CLRV and the longer, articulated, double-module "Articulated Light Rail Vehicle" (ALRV).


As of October 2018, remaining ALRVs operate mainly on streetcar route 501 Queen (which is mainly served by CLRVs), while CLRVs operate on streetcar routes 503 Kingston Rd, and 506 Carlton. However, CLRVs are currently being replaced by the newer Bombardier Flexity Outlook on route 504 King. Routes 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 512 St. Clair have already been fully converted to the new low-floor Flexity streetcars. Streetcars presently do not operate on routes 502 Downtowner, 505 Dundas and 511 Bathurst which have been replaced by buses due to a shortage of streetcars.[5][1]



At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, TTC's fleet of PCC streetcars had approached (or exceeded in some cases) the end of its useful life. Many Toronto citizens, and a group known as "Streetcars for Toronto" had fought successfully against the TTC's plans to convert its remaining streetcar lines to buses, and thus necessitated a new streetcar to replace the aging PCCs. The "Canadian Light Rail Vehicle" was an attempt at a new, standardized streetcar design to be used in Toronto and in other new streetcar developments throughout the country. There was also a similar attempt of the concept made in the United States around the same time, with cars built by Boeing Vertol for Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

Hawker Siddeley Canada proposed their version of a streetcar in the 1972 known as the Municipal Service Car, which had a bus-like chassis and was of a semi-low floor design with front and rear doors similar to that of the CLRV fleet. The project was abandoned the following year when the TTC selected the CLRV design. No Municipal Service Car prototypes were ever produced, and only concept drawings remain of this vehicle.

The first six CLRV cars (4000–4005) were manufactured by SIG of Zurich, Switzerland, and used as prototypes for Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) (now Bombardier) to manufacture subsequent CLRVs at the Thunder Bay works of Hawker Siddeley Canada (today also part of Bombardier). The original order was for 200 CLRVs, of which ten were to be built by SIG and 190 by Hawker Siddeley. However, the order was reduced by four vehicles to 196 in order to provide parts to construct a prototype Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (number 4900). The four CLRVs removed were from the SIG portion of the order; thus, there were no CLRVs numbered 4006–4009. The 190 Hawker Siddeley CLRVs were numbered 4010–4199.[6][2] CLRV car 4000 had a pantograph when being tested by SIG on the Orbe-Chavornay railway and was converted to trolley pole before being delivered to Toronto.[2]

On December 29, 1977, the first CLRV, SIG-built 4002, arrived at the Hillcrest Complex aboard a railway flatcar. On September 30, 1979, after a year of testing and modification, CLRVs started service on route 507 Long Branch (today the western portion of route 501 Queen).[6]

Twenty-two CLRVs were to run on an open-track Scarborough LRT line (to be later built as an ICTS line). Thus, for suburban operation, the UTDC originally specified an outside-frame bogie that later proved problematic in street operation,[6] and designed the vehicles for speeds up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h). The bogies would derail at switches in street trackage and have noise and vibration problems.[7] Replacing the original Bochum wheels with SAB wheels (similar to PCC wheels) corrected these problems. The Bochum wheels had a rubber layer between the hub and the steel tire (rim), which would flex rather than pulling the opposite wheel through a single-point switch.[8]

The electronics on the CLRV included solid state power controls. In later years, the propulsion control system became unreliable and difficult to maintain as obsolete electronic and electrical parts became difficult to source.[8]

The CLRVs originally had sealed windows and no air conditioning. Later, the windows were modified to allow passengers to open them.[8]

The CLRVs were delivered with couplers for multiple-unit operation. Between 1984 and 1988, the couplers were removed, and a safety shield was placed over the front coupler pocket.[2]


As with the CLRV prototypes, the ALRV prototype, numbered 4900, was tested with a pantograph on standard gauge tracks before delivery to the TTC. Built in 1982, prototype 4900 had features that were not implemented on either CLRVs or production ALRVs such as hand controls instead of foot controls, and electronic destination signs instead of a linen rollsigns.[4] The prototype had couplers while subsequent production units did not.[9] Prototype 4900 ran trials in Toronto from August 10, 1982, until February 25, 1983, with a break when it was displayed at the 1982 Canadian National Exhibition. After completion of the trial runs, car 4900 was stored at the St. Clair Carhouse until March 7, 1987, when it was shipped to the UTDC testing facility in Kingston, Ontario. On March 24, 1988, following a test run, it was rear-ended by another streetcar on the test track and suffered extensive damage. It was scrapped in 1997.[4]

The production ALRVs cars were built by two contractors, MAN of Germany for bogies and articulation, and UTDC at the Thunder Bay Plant. The cars are numbered 4200–4251.

The first production ALRV, number 4200, was shipped to Toronto on June 11, 1987. It underwent further testing and modifications after its arrival. Car 4204 was the first of the production ALRVs to go into revenue service, doing so on the 507 Long Branch route on January 19, 1988.[4]


The previous attempt (made in the United States) to design a US standard light rail car was unsuccessful, and the resulting cars proved troublesome to both transit systems that had purchased them. While the CLRV had fared better for Toronto's streetcar system, other cities in both the US and Canada expressed little interest in the design, which thus remained almost exclusive to Toronto's streetcar system. This made the cars increasingly difficult and costly to maintain, as they required specially-made parts, including electronic modules no longer available.

In 1980, cars 4027, 4029 and 4031 were leased and tested by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to run on the Green Line.[10] During this time, the cars were occasionally operated as two- and three-car trains. However, the MBTA did not adopt the CLRV design for its light rail fleet.[2]

Other than the TTC, the UTDC had only one other buyer for its light rail products. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority purchased 50 vehicles that were double-ended and articulated. They were subsequently sold second hand to Sacramento and Salt Lake City.[2]

CLRVs were built with couplers for multiple-unit control. Although not used in Toronto, the CLRV could be configured for double-end operation and high-platform boarding.[6]


The design and operation of the CLRVs and ALRVs carried over features from the highly successful PCCs that they replaced, having a similar interior layout, and the same two green bull's-eye lights in the upper corners of the front, above the destination sign, which uses back-lit roller boards. Braking and acceleration were controlled by the operator with the same pedal layout used on the PCC's, including the dead man's switch which was used to apply the parking brake when the vehicle was not in motion.

Other features include fluorescent lighting and chopper controls to save energy.[6]

Unlike the CLRVs, the ALRVs have a large box sitting on the roof of each of the two articulated sections. Each box houses an air intake to ventilate the larger ALRV interior. All of the TTC's ALRVs were delivered without couplers, and a safety shield covers both of the empty front and rear coupler pockets.[4] Compared with the CLRVs, the ALRVs had limited acceleration due to their extra weight and because trolley pole pickup limited the amount of power they could draw.[8]

When the CLRVs and ALRVs were delivered in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, they were equipped with gongs as the sole audible warning signal. Most cars were retrofitted with horns in the late 1990s when the 510 Spadina line opened. Initially, the horns were salvaged from retired H1 and M1 subway cars which were replaced by the T1 subway cars. However, during the CLRV/ALRV streetcar fleet overhaul project between 2011 and 2012 the TTC reconfigured the streetcar horns with new air horns or automobile-type electric horns.[citation needed]

CLRV 4041 with roof-mounted air conditioning unit

CLRV 4041 is the only member of the CLRV fleet to have an air conditioning unit, which the TTC installed in 2006. The unit was a long roof-mounted box with curved sides that gave 4041 a look distinct from that of other CLRVs. After a ride on 4041, Steve Munro described the air conditioning as "nowhere near as aggressive as it is on some buses or on the T1 subway cars. Moreover, depending on where you are in the car, you may not feel the effect at all because the cool air does not blow out evenly. When I rode back north on a non-A/C car, I sat beside the open window and was actually cooler than I had been on 4041."[11] Car 4041 remains the only CLRV with an air-conditioning unit. None of the ALRVs have air conditioning.[12]

Later years

Since 2014, the CLRV and ALRV streetcars have been in the process of being replaced by low-floor Flexity Outlook vehicles, which was first put into service on the 510 Spadina route.[13] The reasons for replacement are accessibility as well as the age and declining reliability of the CLRV/ALRV fleet.


These cars, like the PCCs, have high floors and steps at every doorway, and are therefore not wheelchair accessible, severely limiting their use by people with physical disabilities. With the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act mandating all public transport to be fully accessible by 2025, the TTC saw the need to replace them with accessible vehicles as early as 2005.[14][15][16]

Winter operational issues

During the winters of 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2017/2018 many of the CLRV and ALRV streetcars broke down operating in temperatures below −20C due to their age. On one of the worst days in January 2014, 48 streetcars fail to run for the morning rush hour.[17] On December 28, 2017 when the temperature was again −20C, 45 older streetcars could not leave the carhouse.[18]

The older streetcars use pressurized air passing through tubes and valves to operate such things as suspension, braking, windshield wipers, doors and the rail sander (for traction under icy conditions). Condensation can freeze and block the air tubes causing a variety of malfunctions. Over time, salt erodes the air tanks and the tubing gets brittle and leaks leading to less efficient air flow which may cause the compressor beneath the tail of the car to overheat and break down.[17]

To address these problems in December 2015, the TTC performed fixes taking 2–3 days per streetcar to implement. These included the installation of new air tanks and filters, the replacement of old tubing to the windshield wipers, repairs on the valves controlling air flow to the rail sanders, overhaul of the brake valves, and the correction of any suspension system deficiencies.[17]

Bus substitutions

Buses have temporarily replaced streetcars on routes served by the CLRV/ALRV fleet because of a streetcar shortage. The reasons for this are the declining reliability of the aging CLRV/ALRV fleet, delays in the delivery of new replacement vehicles,[19] and the increase in ridership on other streetcar routes.[20] as well sometimes during an extreme cold snap which causes some of these vehicles to not operate properly.

In January 2017, the TTC claimed that delays in delivery of the new wheelchair-compatible and air-conditioned Flexity Outlook streetcars had resulted in both streetcar and bus shortages. Because the old streetcars require extra maintenance, only 170 of the 200 old streetcars could be put into service. This shortage lead to the replacement of streetcars by buses on routes 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Rd and 511 Bathurst, which in turn lead to a reduction of service on some bus routes.[19][21]

Effective February 19, 2018, the TTC replaced the CLRV streetcars on routes 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton with buses, and reassigned those streetcars to other routes such as 504 King to handle crowding from increased ridership. (Ridership on 504 King increased by 25% since the implementation of a pilot transit mall along downtown King Street.) However, some reassigned CLRV streetcars went to end the bus substitution on 511 Bathurst.[20][22]


By 2018, the TTC plan to rebuild and extend the life of 30 CLRVs and 30 ALRVs. In 2016, 56 employees were working on this rebuild program. Refurbishing each ALRV takes about 55 days and costs $800,000. The cost for each CLRV is about $200,000. The total cost will be $33.1 million. Delays in delivery of the new Flexity streetcars made the refurbishment program necessary.[23]

The refurbishent of 30 ALRVs alone will cost $24 million, and there is an option to refurbish another 10. The remaining 12 ALRVs will be stripped of useful parts and scrapped. The renovations include new energy-efficient LED lights, upgraded floors and fresh seats, overhauled pneumatic, brake and traction systems. This is expected to extend the life of the cars to 2024 as more Flexities arrive and enter service.[24] The first renovated ALRV (4217) entered service on October 15, 2015.[25]

The use of salt brine to de-ice city streets has corroded parts on the older streetcars so much that such parts must often be cut off the car. The TTC Harvey Shops must manufacture some of the replacement such as the chevrons to attach the bogies to carbody. The upholstery department constructs the bellows used between the articulated sections of the ALRV. Each set of bellows takes 240 hours to construct from a vinyl-like material using electric sewing machines.[23]


Row of retired CLRV's and ALRV's at the Leslie Barns. Note that CLRV 4102 (retired 2017)[26] is missing parts.

The CLRV and ALRV cars are being gradually retired from service as more new Flexity low-level streetcars arrive and enter service. It is expected that the last CLRVs and ALRVs will be retired by 2024 when the entire network is equipped with Flexities.[24] Some of the retiring CLRV and ALRV streetcars will be auctioned off in bulk to museums and collectors, but most will be broken up for scrap starting in 2015.[24]

Here are some noteworthy retirees listed in order of retirement:

  • CLRV 4063 was the first to be retired. In 2006, it was intended to be the first prototype for the TTC's CLRV overhaul program, which was to include a complete reconstruction of the body as well as new propulsion and control systems. However, after the car was stripped, the overhaul program was cancelled. Because of a diminishing supply of spare parts for the active fleet, it was decided that the unit would be scrapped and all usable parts be salvaged for repairs to the existing fleet. The shell was sold for scrap in March 2009 to Future Enterprises of Hamilton, Ontario.[26]
  • ALRV 4231 was retired in mid 2014 and was used to supply parts until its scrapping in May 2015. It was the first ALRV to be retired and scrapped.[27]
  • CLRV 4062 was the second CLRV retired, after it suffered a serious collision with TTC bus 7807 in East York on December 27, 2014.[28] Previously, the TTC repaired CLRVs damaged in collisions, even those heavily damaged. Instead CLRV 4062 was retired in January 2015.[26]
  • CLRV 4162, retired in March 2015, was the third CLRV to be retired but the first because of age, wear and tear.[26]
  • CLRV 4005 was retired in May 2015 and scrapped in July 2015. It was the first of the six SIG-built CRLVs to be retired.[26]
  • CLRV 4000, the first CLRV by number and one of the six SIG CLRVs built, was shipped to a Hamilton scrap yard on December 9, 2017 from the Leslie Barns.[29]

See also

Similar vehicles

Related pages


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Service Summary – June 24, 2018 to September 1, 2018" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. April 1, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bow, James (December 3, 2017). "The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (The CLRVs)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  3. ^ a b TTC – The Coupler – Wheels of Progress. Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Bow, James (January 30, 2017). "The Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (The ALRVs)". Transit Toronto. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  5. ^ "Accessible streetcar service updates". Toronto Transit Commission. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Thompson, John (January 5, 2018). "The car that saved Toronto's streetcars". Railway Age. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  7. ^ Munro, Steve (October 21, 2007). "A Short History of the CLRV". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 15, 2018. Indeed, the original plans for the Scarborough line were based on CLRV operation. However, the engineers working on this had only a vague grasp of transit basics, and they determined that the new cars had to travel at up to 70mph (roughly 110kph) for suburban operations. ... Further problems ensued because the wheels chosen for these vehicles were incompatible with our track, notably at switches where cars tended to derail. This problem was fixed, eventually, along with the worst of the noise and vibration issues by a change to the type of wheel we now see on the CLRVs, itself a descendent of the PCC design.
  8. ^ a b c d Munro, Steve (December 29, 2006). "New Streetcars Sooner, Not Later?". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  9. ^ Munro, Steve (June 16, 2010). "Multiple Unit CLRV and ALRV Operation". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  10. ^ 4029 and 4031 at Arborway Station in Boston, Massachusetts
  11. ^ Munro, Steve (July 21, 2006). "The Air Conditioned Streetcar". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  12. ^ "Service Summary May 7, 2017 to June 17, 2017" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Kim Brown (August 31, 2014). "New TTC streetcars make their debut". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. Torontonians taking the Spadina streetcar might have noticed something different when they stepped on board today. That's because the Toronto Transit Commission has finally launched the first of its new streetcars.
  14. ^ Kevin Connor (November 15, 2012). "TTC officially unveils new streetcar". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012. The current, 35-year-old fleet is being replaced by 204 new vehicles, which will be in service by 2014 and introduced to Toronto's streets during a five-year period. The 510 Spadina line will be the first route equipped with the new acquisitions.
  15. ^ Kyle Bachan, Hamutal Dotan (November 15, 2012). "TTC Previews Our New Streetcars: Media and politicians explore the first full-size test vehicle from Toronto's new streetcar fleet". The Torontoist. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Key is the new Presto fare payment system, which will include open payment options—by credit and debit cards, and by mobile devices, as well as the Presto fare cards. Crucially, this will allow for all-door loading and hopefully cut down on the amount of time vehicles need to spend at each stop. Also crucial: the new low-floor design, which will make it much easier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids to board and exit.
  16. ^ The Torontoist (November 17, 2011). "The Toronto Light Rail Vehicles (The LRVs)". James Bow. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c Alex Ballingall (December 1, 2015). "Aging TTC streetcars rattle into winter". Toronto Star. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  18. ^ Moore, Oliver (December 28, 2017). "Nearly one-third of old streetcars were unable to leave yard due to frigid weather: TTC". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Ben Spurr (January 9, 2017). "TTC blames service cuts on streetcar delays". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Moore, Oliver (January 11, 2018). "Toronto's King streetcar sees 'spectacular' rise in ridership". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  21. ^ Steve Munro (December 11, 2016). "TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, January 8, 2017". Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  22. ^ "Accessible streetcar service updates". Toronto Transit Commission. Archived from the original on January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Ben Spurr (May 13, 2016). "TTC staff 'perform miracles' keeping aging streetcar fleet on track". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  24. ^ a b c Bateman, Chris (June 16, 2015). "TTC upgrading some streetcars, crushing others". MetroNews. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  25. ^ "Newly-restored TTC streetcar enters service". Toronto Transit Commission. October 15, 2015. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  26. ^ a b c d e "Toronto Transit Commission 4000–4005, 4010–4199". Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  27. ^ "Toronto Transit Commission 4200–4251". Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  28. ^ "4 injured after crash between TTC bus and streetcar". Global News. December 27, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  29. ^ Munro, Steve (December 10, 2017). "Early Days of the CLRVs (Updated)". Steve Munro. Retrieved January 15, 2018.

External links

  • Media related to Canadian Light Rail Vehicles in Toronto at Wikimedia Commons
  • Media related to Articulated Light Rail Vehicles in Toronto at Wikimedia Commons
  • The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (The CLRVs)
  • The Articulated Light Rail Vehicles (The ALRVs)
  • Toronto Transit Commission 4000–4005, 4010–4199 CLRV roster
  • Toronto Transit Commission 4200–4251 ALRV roster
  • CLRV 4000 End of Line on YouTube depicting retired CLRV 4000 being loaded on a flatbed at the Leslie Barns
  • Chris Bateman (August 19, 2014). "The story of the last new streetcar launch in Toronto". BlogTO. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014. The decision to keep the city's streetcars wasn't a simple one. The TTC's Presidents' Conference Committee streetcars were in urgent need of replacement, but no successor was in development. As a result, the province established the Ontario Transportation Development Corporation (later re-named Urban Transportation Development Corporation, UTDC for short) to design a new light rail vehicle it could sell to Toronto and, it hoped, other cities.
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