Photo of Train Station in Waterloo, Ontario

Powering light rail expansion in Kitchener-Waterloo

Prefabricated substation solution streamlines testing, installation and commissioning

An innovative approach to transit in Ontario’s technology hub

Part of the second-largest North American technology cluster, Kitchener and Waterloo, Canada are rapidly growing communities, home to a new generation of sustainability-minded residents. The Waterloo Region’s public transportation network is in growth mode too, having just constructed ION, a new 19-station light rail transit (LRT) system to connect the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo in an efficient, emissions-free way.


To power its new light rail vehicles­ and the expansion of the Kitchener-Waterloo technology hub, the ION operations team turned to Siemens Mobility. The turnkey solution included overhead lines, controllers, system automation, and 14 fully assembled modular DC traction power substations. Taking an innovative approach, Siemens Mobility was able to assemble and test the substations off-site and deliver a complete and proven product to the field, vastly simplifying installation and commissioning.

An electrification solution made for the Light Rail Tram of the future

As the only North American company to offer both traction power supply and overhead catenary solutions, Siemens Mobility was a natural fit to provide ION’s electrification. The turnkey electrification solution included:


•           14 fully assembled modular DC traction power substations

•           Sitras® DSG DC switchgear

•           Sitras PRO DC protective unit and controller

•           Siprotec® AC Protection

•           Simatic® PLC automation

•           Overhead catenary lines


The state-of-the-art power equipment is integrated into a single container that is compact, reliable, and low maintenance. Delivered fully built and tested, the substations only need to be set up and connected to an external supply, eliminating the need to construct new buildings. These prefabricated substations are easily adaptable to urban environments, like Kitchener and Waterloo.

A smart and sustainable way to power public transportation

System Benefits

Delivering positive returns for ION

Combining innovation and reliability, Siemens Mobility’s traction power system is delivering benefits to ION for both today and tomorrow. By reducing the amount of work needed to be done on-site, the innovative solution helped save time and money during the installation and commissioning process. The system’s design and advanced network control technology also make it easier to operate and maintain, saving additional costs in the long run.


The power system also plays an important role in the launch of the new Kitchener-Waterloo LRT system. Reliability is critical to its successful adoption by the public — and the power system is a key contributor to that reliability. Built to work right out of the gate, and backed by more than 30 years of Siemens Mobility experience in North America, the new traction power system is one that ION can trust to deliver.

The key thing for us specifically during the first two years of a brand new system is that everything works well and as expected. What Siemens has provided as a key supplier helps us rest easy.
Vincent Patterson, General Manager, Keolis