Calgary's Light Rail Transit System

The "C-Train"

Mayor Dave Bronconnier drives SD160 #2230 at the grand opening of the opening of the SWLRT Phase II extension at Somerset Bridlewood in June 2004. Bronconnier was key in bringing LRT expansions to Calgary. In his two terms he brought seven new stations, fiftey-seven new train cars, 7th Avenue refurbihsment and the building of a West LRT line to Calgarians.

A. History

Electric powered transit in Calgary first came at the turn of the 20th century with streetcars. A large number of these routes were replaced by electric trolley buses running on overhead wire in the late 1940's. By 1975, this system itself had been decommissioned in favor of running more flexible diesel powered buses. However, in the mid 1960's the idea of building a light rail system for Calgary was taken into consideration and tagged at a cost of $200 Million. The city could not afford this at the time, but appropriate land was set aside to protect the future LRT right of way. This LRT right of way is the current south line from downtown to Anderson Station. By May 25, 1977, City Council approved the City Centre-Anderson line to be constructed at a cost of $144 million. The first 27 train cars were built directly after an Edmonton order at a cost of $954 000 per car. By May 25, 1981 the first leg was ready to go and revenue service began. The remaining significant dates can be found in the following section. (Source: Calgary Transit Then & Now- Donald M. Bain)

B. Openings and Extensions

1979 Anderson Garage Construction on Anderson garage began as it was required to complete final assembly on the Siemens Duwag U2 light rail vehicles.
May 25, 1981 City Centre & South C-Train opens for revenue service from 8th Street West to Anderson Station.
Mid 1980's Haysboro Storage Storage facility with indoor capacity for 30 train cars and outdoor capacity for 30 train cars.
April 29, 1985 City Centre & Northeast C-Train extends to Whitehorn Station, adding 10th Street West & 3rd Street East Stations in the City Centre.
September 7, 1987 Northwest C-Train extends to University Station.
August 31, 1989 Northwest C-Train extends to Brentwood Station.
October 9, 2001 South C-Train extends to Fish Creek Lacombe Station
December 15, 2003 Northwest C-Train extends to Dalhousie Station
June 28, 2004 South C-Train extends to Somerset-Bridlewood Station
December 17, 2007 Northeast C-Train extends to McKnight-Westwinds Station
June 15, 2009 Northwest C-Train extends to Crowfoot Station
2009 Oliver Bowen Garage Storage and maintenance facility partially opened
2012 West The new West LRT leg is expected to be open to 69th Street West (Westside Recreation Centre) running in an alignment similar to the current west leg of the 301 BRT route.
2012 Northwest C-Train is expected to extend to Tuscany
2012 Northeast C-Train is expected to extend to Saddleridge via Martindale.

C. Stations and Design

Accessibility- Many older stations built in the 1980's have had wheelchair ramps installed as well as wheelchair ramps installed on the original Siemens-Duwag U2 cars.

Platform Length- All stations that were built 2001 or earlier are 3 car platforms. In 2005 work began on extending platforms, starting in the downtown core. See 7th Avenue refurbishment project below. Platforms outside the downtown core are more commonly centre loading, but some are side loading. All downtown platforms are side loading

Quantity- As of July 2009, the system consists of 39 raised platform stations. 8 on the northwest leg, 11 on 7th Avenue Transit Mall, 9 on the northeast leg and 11 on the southeast leg. The total revenue track length as of July 2009 is 44.9km.

Station Design - The original 7th Avenue platforms shared a very common design and livery; meanwhile new platforms have a similar high canopies and bare steel. The original northeast leg has stations that are all in the median of Memorial Drive and 36 Street, thus they share very similar designs and are either burgundy or green in color. Most stations on the original south leg to Anderson shares similar station designs as well with the livery being grey. The original northwest line has unique station layouts that took into account the aesthetics of the community which the station was located. The 7 extension stations built from 2001-2009 have much more modern designs that move away from boxy looking buildings, rather various curves and a variety of different colors are used in these stations.

Station Services (Outside City Centre) - Almost all stations outside the downtown core have feeder bus routes, with many of these having dedicated bus loops. Additionally many non-downtown stations have bike lockers, paid Park N'Ride and passenger loading zones (Kiss N'Ride). Park N'Ride was free until 2009, the cost is now $3 weekdays from 2am-6pm and free other times. Until about 2003, concession stands were run by third party companies at busier suburban stations; however, they have ceased to exist. Newer stations do not have a physical space for such services built into them.

7th Avenue Transit Mall - These stations are generally single direction only and are all side loading platforms. Private vehicles are not allowed on the Avenue, instead the Avenue is reserved for C-Train, transit buses, transit auxiliary vehicles, Enmax vehicles, police vehicles, EMS vehicles and Calgary Fire Department vehicles. Trains and all other traffic must obey traffic signals due to the many streets that cross the Avenue. Lights are timed to give trains a green signal; however, the system does not account perfectly for delays at stations and bunching of trains. Refurbishment of the stations is intended to be a first step in making this Avenue more attractive.

7th Avenue Refurbishment Project - This is a summary of work being taken to extend and phase out the aging platforms in the City Centre. Original platforms are built for 3 car trains (consists); meanwhile new platforms are built for 4 car consists.

Opening Date
Opening Date
10 Street West Westbound & Eastbound April 29, 1985   End of line for 202 line trains and selected short turn 201 line trains.
8 Street West Eastbound May 25, 1981 January 2010 Old platform located on westside of 8 Street , new platform is on eastside of 8 Street.
7 Street West Westbound May 25, 1981 February 27, 2009 Old platform located westside of 7 Street , new platform is on eastside of 7 Street.
6 Street West Eastbound May 25, 1981 March 26, 2009 Old platform was closed to facilitate construction of the new platform, location is unchanged.
4 Street West Westbound May 25, 1981 January 21, 2011 Old platform was closed to facilitate construction of the new platform, location is unchanged.
3 Street West Eastbound May 25, 1981 March 2010 Old platform was closed to facilitate construction of the new platform, location is unchanged.
1 Street West Westbound May 25, 1981 October 2005 Old platform located westside of 1 Street, new platform located eastside of 1 Street.
Centre Street Eastbound May 25, 1981 August 2000 Old platform located westside of Centre Street, new platform located on westside of 8 Street. Was upgraded as part of the Telus Convention Centre and is still a 3 car platform. Work to extend platform began in mid 2011.
City Hall Westbound July 6, 2011 N/A- New Platform This platform was built to replace Olympic Plazza and 3 Street East..
City Hall Eastbound May 25, 1981 Temporary opening July 6, 2011 before construction was complete. New platform was closed on July 18, 2011 to finish consturction after serving only during the Calgary Stampede.
Olympic Plaza Westbound May 25, 1981 N/A- Closed July 6, 2011 Platform closed and replaced with City Hall Westbound one block to the east of Olympic Plazza.
3 Street East Westbound April 29, 1985 N/A- Closed May 3, 2010 Station was replaced with City Hall Westbound one block to the west.

D. Rolling Stock of Light Rail Vehicles

Siemens-Duwag U2 DC- 3 separate orders of these vehicles make for a total of 83 cars. The electronic components of the cars are provided by Siemens; meanwhile, the body of the cars are from the German based Duwag. The U2 model offered by Duwag was a proven vehicle first built in the 1960's and was chosen over some newer North American designs such as those by Boeing-Vertol. The assembly of the U2 cars was completed at Anderson Garage from 1980-1985. The cars operate on a direct current, thus are properly know as Siemens-Duwag U2 DC cars. As of Fall 2009, 79 of these 83 cars remain in service. An 84th car (#2090) was assembled in 2010 from the two good ends of cars that had been written off.

Siemens-Duwag U2 AC- 2 of these cars exist and they were originally purchased by the Alberta government for testing purposes with Edmonton Transit System as #3001-3002. They are cosmetically similar to the earlier U2 DC cars operated in Calgary and Edmonton; however, electronically they are very different. In 1990, they were sold to Calgary Transit and later renumbered as #2101-2102. The cars run on an alternating current and are known as the Siemens-Duwag U2 AC cars. As two car trains became more uncommon, Calgary Transit electro-vehicle-mechanics were set with the task of making these cars compatible with the SD160 cars which are also powered on an AC current. Thus these two U2 AC cars are always seen running with SD160 cars only, and never the U2 DC cars. Both cars remain in active service.

Siemens SD160- 4 separate orders of these vehicles make for a total of 112 cars. The cars are fully built by Siemens Transportation Systems in Sacramento, California. The first 72 cars began delivery in 2000 and were completed by 2006. The cars are run on an alternating current (AC). In the summer of 2009, a project to install air conditioning on some cars had begun and this was completed by mid 2011. The next 40 cars came with various upgrades as well as a redesigned look, in fact a handful of older SD160's were modernized to mimic this look. These 40 new cars began delivery in 2010 and should be completed by 2012.

Livery- The 3 stripe with white base paint was a livery that was first introduced with the U2-DC light rail vehicles. The fleet numbers on the front of the vehicles were originally in much larger font as well, before being reduced in size. The 3 stripe-white base livery was last applied on SD160 car #2232. In 2007, a red-brown wave with white base livery was introduced and applied to the newest order of trains (#2233-2272); however, many cars were known to linger with just the factory white base paint and CT logos for an extended period of time after the introduction of this livery. Many cars in the earlier part of this same order of cars entered service without livery.

Seating- All U2 cars originally came with checker patterned brown cloth seating and by the late 1990's, most had been changed to brown non-pattern cloth seating. Starting in 2002-2003, the U2 cars were given a blue cloth seating makeover. In 2007, blue vinyl seating was introduced to replace the cloth seats. All U2 Cars originally came with wood paneled interior side walls, most of these have been changed out to stainless steal plating. The first 32 SD160 cars came originally with light blue cloth seating, these seats were changed to blue vinyl. The 3rd order of 40 SD160's came with the blue vinyl seating. All U2 cars have pods of bench seats that face each other throughout the train. All first 72 of the SD160 cars have bench seats that face the cab closest to that row. All Calgary light rail vehicles have 4 side facing benches between the two sets of middle doors. The 4th order of SD160's came with all side facing seats that were of hard padded heavy duty plastic.

All Time Roster

Fleet Number
Year Built
#2001-2027 1980-81 Siemens-Duwag U2 DC - Retired from Accident Damage (Year) 2010(2002), 2019(2007)
#2028-2030 1982-83 Siemens-Duwag U2 DC - Retired from Accident Damage (Year) 2027(2007)
#2031-2083 1983-85 Siemens-Duwag U2 DC - Retired from Accident Damage (Year) 2050(2007)
#2101-2102 1988 Siemens-Duwag U2 AC  
#2201-2215 2000-01 Siemens SD160 - Air Conditioning and interior destination signs retrofitted
#2216-2232 2003-04 Siemens SD160 - Air Conditioning and interior destination signs retrofitted
#2233-2272 2006-07 Siemens SD160 - Air Conditioning and interior destination signs retrofitted
#2301-2340 2010-12 Siemens SD160 - Air Conditioned, all side facing seats, interior destination signs and interior cameras all original equipment.

E. Links

Calgary Transit Map and Schedule Info- Calgary Transit's own page with access to route maps and schedules for LRT and bus routes.

Calgary Transit Technical Information - Calgary Transit's own page with various technical aspects of the light rail system, including statistics.

LRT in Calgary - An extensive web site by local enthusiast, Steve Perry. Features lots of maps and photos of LRT extensions.

NW LRT Dalhousie Extension- An extensive photo gallery the Dalhousie extension (Internal link).

Photo Gallery- An extensive photo gallery of LRV's and some station pictures (Internal link).

SW LRT II Extension- An extensive photo gallery the phase II of SW (South) LRT extension (Internal link).

West LRT Allignment Animation - An animation of the approved allignment of West LRT.

West LRT Official Website - Official website for West LRT information and maps.


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