'Welding defect' will send 67 new streetcars back for repairs, TTC says
The TTC says it is taking steps to ensure that there will be little to no impact on service following news that most of the new streetcars delivered by Bombardier will need to be sent back to Quebec for repairs.
Bombardier has confirmed that 67 of the streetcars already supplied to the TTC will need to be taken out of service and sent back to the company to fix a “welding defect” that could impact the lifespan of the new cars.
Bombardier spokesperson Eric Prud’Homme described the work as “preventative.”
“There (are) no safety issues for the riders at this moment. We guarantee the welding of our product but the thing is right now we could not guarantee it for the 30-year lifetime of the product,” Prud’Homme told CP24 on Wednesday.
“This is why we are taking this preventative measure.”
He said until the maintenance is performed, Bombardier will "fully guarantee the strength of the existing welds."
It is expected to take until 2022 to repair all of the affected streetcars but TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the transit agency will only send a few cars back at a time to limit the impact on customers.
“This is not a safety critical issue but it does mean that some of the cars are going to have to leave Toronto, maybe three or four at a time, to get these necessary repairs made, and that means three or four cars unavailable for service,” Ross told CP24 Wednesday.
“We need to do some things here to make sure the service impacts are not felt by our customers, that we manage our spare ratios in a way that allow us to put streetcars out so you won’t notice a difference and if we are unable to do that then we put buses out.”
Ross said the streetcars need to be shipped back to Quebec because Toronto does not have adequate facilities here to repair them.
“These streetcars need to basically be stripped down. They need to be completely disassembled to get to the frames, which is where the welding issues are,” he said. “They have a specialty facility in Quebec so they need to go to that facility.”
The first round of streetcars will be sent to Quebec in the fall.
Bombardier has said it will foot the bill for the repairs but TTC Chair Josh Colle said the transit agency will likely still incur some additional costs when streetcars have to be taken out of service.
“There is a cost as we have to say run additional buses or change staffing models to make sure that service is there for our passengers,” Colle said.
In a statement emailed to CP24, Mayor John Tory said he has asked TTC CEO Rick Leary to ensure Bombardier compensates the TTC if there is “any impact on the service transit riders receive.”
Repairs won't impact delivery schedule: Bombardier
The mayor said he has “made no secret” about his “extreme frustration” with the billion-dollar Bombardier deal and the company’s issues with delivering new vehicles on time.
The TTC is currently suing Bombardier to recoup a $50 million penalty for late delivery.
Tory said the city has been assured this latest setback will not affect the delivery of new streetcars.
Prud’Homme said the company is "fully committed" to the current delivery schedule of 204 cars by the end of 2019.
“We met our objective in Q1 with 11 cars. We just met our second objective in Q2 at the end of this month with 16 cars,” he said.
“This is why we are sending our cars to a centre of expertise in Quebec so it will not affect our sites in Kingston or Thunder Bay, who are currently working hard to deliver the streetcars Torontonians want as soon as possible.”
Ross said in recent months, it appears Bombardier has managed to get back on track with its delivery schedule.
“They have been making schedule as promised. We have not seen any delays,” Ross said. “We have 89 vehicles now on property here in Toronto so we remain confident that they can still meet that (target). We are monitoring it very, very closely.”