OTrain Line 2, new options

The City is planning to expand the OTrain Line 2 (Trillium Line) south as part of light rail, phase 2.

Due to the length of the line, and the expense, and that it may have less passenger traffic at the beginning than Line 1 (Confederation Line), the City currently plans to continue running diesel trains on the track. It has ordered a bunch of diesel trains from Europe to use on the expansion.

Electrification has been pushed off into the future.

But technology doesn’t stand still, and maybe there will be time to consider new options.

Bombardier, maker of the Talent train sets (which the Trillium OTrain had from 2001 to 2013), now has a battery-electric version of the train that doesn’t require expensive track electrification wiring throughout its length.

Instead, there is overhead wiring only at the stations. So while the train is stopped, it recharges. This is in addition to braking-regeneration.

If there is a particularly urban section of track, then just that one segment of track (for eg, Carling Ave to Bayview Station) could be electrified at the outset or as a subsequent improvement. This would put the electrification dollars to where they do the most good. In addition to quieter trains, this makes for a very flexible roll out of complete electrification, should that ever be needed.

Bombardier claims its award-winning battery-powered eco-train can even be retrofitted into existing diesel trainsets. I wonder if that would include the three Talent trainsets we have rusting away in the suburbs, unused, unloved, unsold …

Note that while we are committed to buying the Swiss-made diesel trainsets for Phase 2, there is nothing from stopping us using the battery powered ones too. Or using them for a separate service from Bayview Station across the Prince of Wales Bridge to Gatineau.

And presumably the Swiss-made diesels may be convertible to battery power by time Phase 2 opens up.

Sometimes, technological innovation seems wonderful.


picture and information from Flieger Faust

7 thoughts on “OTrain Line 2, new options

  1. The new diesel-electric trainsets are designed to be convertible by swapping out the power section in the middle. The old talent trains were diesel-mechanical so converting is more complicated.

    1. Aaron … is the centre module swappable for overhead electric only, which still leaves a huge trackside expense, or to battery? If not battery now…maybe a question of battery tomorrow.

  2. Clever suggestions indeed, and quite workable too. One might add that a section across the bridge could serve as a demonstration as well as a revenue service, perhaps having the supplier help with a bit of the cost of the charging station installations and the overhead wiring. Think of it Ottawa, all of North America could see our installation and Bombardier would have a demo site. And to go a step further, once the competition is aware, we might even get attractive proposals to this demo project. Great idea Eric.

  3. Eric, thank you for identifying an alternative solution to the inherent incompatibility of the Trillium and Confederation equipment. Sourcing quieter, more environmentally friendly propulsion systems should be part of the decision criteria for all of our mass (I cannot bring myself to say rapid as anything that uses roads shared by other vehicles is, by definition, not rapid) transit systems.

  4. Eric thanks for identifying this new electric train from Bombardier. As battery technology continues to improve we are likely to see more of these types of vehicles

    In the phase II contract it would be wise for the City to provide for the future adoption of this new type of technology within the terms of the Phase II contract. It’s adoption would be based on the incremental costs and benefits of these electric types of electric trains.

    With the completion of phase II the City should also be open to other public transportation approaches made possible by new technology, such as public -private ride sharing programs. This approach could reduce wastefull fuel use of mostly empty buses running in off peak times and routes. With more carbon taxes these fuel costs can only go up.

  5. Thanks for the update…. one option. Another that has already hit the ways – Alstom has a hydrogen fuel-cell option for the LINT trainsets that is also viable and available. Clean, efficient, quiet, and less on-rail infrastructure. It is a choice. I pointed this out to our previous council, and never heard back. And… similar to what you mentioned, it too could be a demo, with manufacturer participation, for Canada / North America. And…. a main supplier of parts of the technology is an Ontario manufacturer.

  6. Maybe we could lock up all governments into one room (Ottawa, Gatineau, Ontario, Qu├ębec, NCC) until they agree to use the Prince of Wales bridge. Heck, if they won’t run trains across, they should at least allow people on a MUP.

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