Metrolinx to buy light rail ve­hi­cles from Al­stom in shot at Bom­bardier

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ALLISON JONES

TORONTO — The On­tario gov­ern­ment has turned to a French man­u­fac­turer for light rail ve­hi­cles as a backup plan if Bom­bardier fails to de­liver rail­cars for tran­sit projects in Toronto — a sig­nif­i­cant con­cern the pro­vin­cial tran­sit agency has been rais­ing for months.

In an an­nounce­ment on Fri­day, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment said it had reached a $528-mil­lion agree­ment to buy 61 light rail ve­hi­cles from Al­stom in case plane and train maker Bom­bardier is found to be in de­fault at the end of a court-or­dered dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process.

The deal ratch­ets up a dis­pute be­tween the prov­ince and Bom­bardier over the Mon­treal-based com­pany’s abil­ity to ful­fil train or­ders in a city where grid­lock has be­come an in­creas­ing frus­tra­tion for hun­dreds of thou­sands of com­muters.

Last month, an On­tario judge ruled that Metrolinx can’t can­cel its $770-mil­lion con­tract with Bom­bardier to build light rail ve­hi­cles for the Eglin­ton Crosstown, a tran­sit line be­ing built across a por­tion of Toronto, with­out first go­ing through a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process.

On­tario Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Steven Del Duca said that process could take up to a year, and if Bom­bardier “con­tin­ues to fall even fur­ther be­hind,” the tran­sit projects will be fur­ther de­layed.

“Over the past many months, Metrolinx has had ex­tremely se­ri­ous con­cerns re­gard­ing Bom­bardier’s abil­ity to de­liver qual­ity ve­hi­cles ac­cord­ing to the con­tract sched­ule,” Del Duca said. “For ex­am­ple, the pi­lot ve­hi­cle that Bom­bardier pre­sented this past win­ter, which was late, couldn’t move un­der its own power.”

Bom­bardier said in a state­ment that it is “ready, able and will­ing” to de­liver the ve­hi­cles on time.

“As the min­is­ter and Metrolinx are well aware, these ve­hi­cles can be ready ahead of sched­ule and well be­fore a sin­gle track has even been laid on the Eglin­ton Crosstown,” the com­pany said, adding it is pro­duc­ing iden­ti­cal ve­hi­cles for the Re­gion of Water­loo that will be de­liv­ered by the end of the year.

“We’ve met each and ev­ery ma­jor LRV de­liv­ery mile­stone in the last eight months and the proof will be in the per­for­mance of these ve­hi­cles in Water­loo and on Eglin­ton,” the com­pany wrote. “We have ad­dressed the is­sues raised in the past and we are con­fi­dent this will be up­held in the dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process.”

Of the 61 ve­hi­cles or­dered from Al­stom, 17 will be used for the Finch West LRT project in north Toronto. The other 44 will be used for the Eglin­ton Crosstown if Bom­bardier is un­able to de­liver. If the com­pany comes through, those Al­stom ve­hi­cles will be used for other projects, Del Duca said.

This agree­ment gives On­tario more cer­tainty that the Finch West and Eglin­ton Crosstown will open on time in 2021, he said.

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