Metrolinx not counting on Bombardier for new LRT lines
Invitation to bidders suggests Hurontario project might get vehicles elsewhere.
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In a development that casts further doubt on Bombardier’s role as vehicle supplier for Ontario light rail projects, Metrolinx is seeking out other potential manufacturers for its Mississauga-Brampton line.
On Tuesday, Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, issued a request for qualifications — an early stage of the procurement process — for the planned Hurontario LRT, a 20-km, 22-stop line that will run from the Port Credit GO station to Steeles Ave. in Brampton. In addition to designing, building, operating and maintaining the $1.4-billion line,the document also asks the successful bidder to supply a fleet of 44 light rail vehicles (LRVs).
The inclusion of vehicles as part of the procurement means that Metrolinx will not operate Hurontario with vehicles from the order it placed with Bombardier in 2010. That $770-million purchase of up to 182 LRVs has been hit with delays.
The Hurontario news also comes one month after it was revealed that the province told consortia bidding on Toronto’s Finch LRT that they could include vehicle suppliers as part of their submissions as well. Metrolinx had previously said it would use trains from the Bombardier purchase on the Finch line.
In an email, a spokesperson for the Quebec-based manufacturer signalled that the company planned to follow through with the entire original order.
“Bombardier signed a contract in 2010 to supply 182 light rail vehicles . . . We refer you to Metrolinx” regarding where they plan to use them, said Marc-André Lefebvre.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins wouldn’t respond directly when asked whether the delays to the agency’s original LRV order had prompted the province to seek out other potential suppliers for the Hurontario line.
“There are several benefits for including the vehicles in project procurement,” Aikins said, including transferring the risk of vehicle delays or quality issues to the consortium and ensuring close integration of the trains with the rail infrastructure.
Metrolinx placed the original LRV order with Bombardier six years ago to supply vehicles for Toronto-area LRT lines. However, the purchase was large enough that some of the vehicles could have been used on other provincially funded projects as well, including Hurontario.
Bombardier, has yet to deliver the first Eglinton Crosstown test vehicle, which was originally scheduled to arrive in 2014. In July, Metrolinx served Bombardier with a notice of default, alleging it was in breach of contract.
Of the initial order, 76 vehicles are slated to run on the Eglinton Crosstown and 14 are headed for Waterloo’s ION line. The remaining 92 have yet to be allocated, according to Aikins.
Aikins said she couldn’t comment on whether Metrolinx would commit to buying all 182 vehicles from Bombardier. She also wouldn’t say whether Metrolinx would seek out other potential vehicle suppliers for the Hamilton LRT. The province expects to issue a request for qualifications for that project next year.
Bombardier’s struggle to build rail vehicles on time is affecting transit projects across the province. The TTC is suing the company for $50 million for repeated delays to its order for 204 streetcars.
Construction of the Hurontario LRT is scheduled to begin in 2018, and is expected to be complete by 2022.