The preliminary findings from the study undertaken by LTK Engineering’s were presented to the RTA board of trustees on April 16. RTA contracted LTK in June 2018 to determine the estimated remaining life of each fleet and evaluate the benefits of a major rehabilitation compared with replacement.

The city currently has a metro line and two light rail lines which share the tracks between Tower City and East 55th stations, although the three stations along this section have separate low-access platforms for LRVs.

While both fleets have had some level of mid-life renewal, each fleet is exceeding the acceptable 30-year useful life, LTK found.

“RTA’s rail system is safe, but we are well past the point of incurring the ever-increasing costs of continually upgrading the fleet and repairing the cars,” says RTA interim CEO and general manager, Mr Floun’say Caver. “Those costs far exceed that of purchasing a new fleet.

“Our customers will appreciate the reliability, not to mention the style, of riding in new cars. This rail system is way over-due in serving our region with state-of-the-art technology and a 21st century rail fleet.”

The reasons for replacing both heavy rail vehicles (HRVs), which are used on the Red Line, and the LRVs used on the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines, include structural loss from corrosion, lack of readily available spare parts and the cost of rehabilitation that far exceeds replacement costs, the LTK study found.

LTK recommended the procurement of two different fleets (HRV and LRV) rather than a single type of car to serve both high and low platforms. A single fleet would require significant infrastructure work at stations, increase engineering design costs, and impact the RTA’s ability to phase them into service.

LTK recommended that procurement for HRVs begins in 2020, with delivery in 2023, with a recommended fleet size of 34 vehicles. Cost is estimated at $US 3m per vehicle, or $US 102m overall. LTK also recommends that the procurement of LRVs should start in 2025, with delivery in 2028. Estimated cost is $US 4m per vehicle, or $US 96m overall.

The fleet of HRVs could be reduced from 40 to 34 vehicles, while the fleet or LRVs could be reduced from 34 to 24 due to greater reliability and fewer maintenance requirements.