The first ION light rail transit vehicle for a new mass transit project in the Region of Waterloo was expected to be shipped from the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, but production for the rest of the fleet has been moved to Kingston.
"It's been a long journey," said Tom Galloway, who chairs the planning and works committee for the Region of Waterloo, explaining he had a chance to see the rail car during its construction when he visited the northwestern Ontario plant in November 2016.
"It was actually almost emotional because this has been a project that started in 2010 when we first made the decision to go in a rapid transit system with a light rail transit and then subsequently chose the Bombardier vehicle," he said.
The completion of the first car is causing quite a stir in his region, said Galloway. "It's a big day, people are quite excited," he said, noting that there is a Track the Train website being set up to follow the vehicle as it makes its way from Thunder Bay to Waterloo.
But it will be the only vehicle in the 14-car fleet manufactured in Thunder Bay because "Bombardier in general has had production issues," said Galloway pointing to legal issues arising over delays filling contracts for the Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx.
Top officials from Bombardier met with Galloway and others several months ago "to give us their recovery plan, as they put it, to get themselves back up on their feet, and part of that was, of course, switching the production of our vehicle to the Kingston facility."
It will be approximately 10 to 12 days before the new vehicle arrives in Waterloo, where it will be tested, and additional equipment added.
Officials with Bombardier could not be reached to confirm the train was on its way to Waterloo.