Metrolinx to Buy LRVs from Alstom

The Globe and Mail reports that Metrolinx has entered into a deal with Alstom, who are already building the LRV fleet for Ottawa, to produce cars for at least some of the Metrolinx projects in the GTHA. In effect, Metrolinx is looking to cut its ties to Bombardier whose car deliveries are long overdue, although the actual mechanics of this will depend on contract negotiations and whether Bombardier actually does manage to produce cars in time for the Eglinton Crosstown line’s opening.

The Alstom cars will go to Eglinton, unless Bombardier comes through, in which case they will be repurposed for the Finch and Hurontario lines. Given the opening dates planned for those lines, a decision to extend the Alstom order would come well before opening day unless the current target dates for Finch and Hurontario were changed.

Metrolinx and Bombardier still must go through a dispute resolution process, but is it clear that Metrolinx feels that they are on solid enough ground to make this move.

Metrolinx press release (May 12, 2017):

METROLINX STATEMENT ON ALSTOM / BOMBARDIER

TORONTO: May 12, 2017 – Metrolinx is taking a major step forward to ensure that the Eglinton Crosstown LRT opens on time, and that our other LRT projects are on track.

We are making great progress on the Eglinton Crosstown and are well on our way to launching this outstanding new service as scheduled in 2021.

Now, we are pleased to be able to say we have certainty that there will be trains to run on this line.  That is because we are entering into an agreement with Alstom as an alternative supplier of light rail vehicles.  Alstom will build 17 vehicles for the Finch West LRT project and, if necessary, 44 for Eglinton Crosstown. If Alstom vehicles are not needed for Eglinton Crosstown, they will be reassigned to the Hurontario LRT project.

We know for sure that Alstom’s light rail vehicles work.  They are currently producing quality vehicles on-time for Ottawa’s Confederation Line LRT project.

We are going through a dispute resolution process with Bombardier, but that could take 8-12 months, and we can’t wait that long to determine whether Bombardier will be able to deliver.

We are hopeful that Bombardier can get its program on track.   However, the steps we are taking give us a safety net if it turns out Bombardier is unable to fulfil its contract.

Our end goal remains opening our LRT projects on time with high-quality vehicles that will provide excellent service to the people of this region.  This new contract with Alstom provides flexibility to ensure that happens.

John Jensen

President & CEO, Metrolinx

Bombardier Statement (May 12, 2017)

From Marc-André Lefebvre, Head of Communications and Public Relations, Canada

Bombardier is ready, able, and willing to deliver these vehicles to the people of Toronto 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.

In fact, the Metrolinx pilot vehicle is ready, undergoing qualification testing, and Bombardier is right now producing vehicles for the Region of Waterloo that are identical to those that will be used on the Eglinton Crosstown. All 14 of those vehicles will be delivered to Waterloo by the end of this year.

We believe what’s best for the people of Toronto and Ontario is that we work together to ensure taxpayers are not on the hook for another cancelled contract. 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. We have addressed the issues raised in the past and we are confident this will be upheld in the dispute resolution process.

We are committed to working with Metrolinx to find a clear path forward; one that ensures the transit riding public has the most efficient, comfortable and reliable transit system in the world.

I will update this article as more information becomes available.

Minister of Transportation’s statement (May 12, 2017)

Youtube video of Alstom Citadis cars for Ottawa

Alstom product page for Citadis Spirit

Alstom press release (May 12, 2017)

Toronto Star article

Just think, this could have been Scarborough. While Toronto has utterly cocked up its transit planning, with substantial help from Queen’s Park, Ottawa has built and is about to open the first phase of their line.

26 thoughts on “Metrolinx to Buy LRVs from Alstom

  1. Steve: Just think, this could have been Scarborough.

    You are a little off-topic here. This article has nothing to do with Scarborough but you take every opportunity to take a jab at Scarborough.

    Steve: After Glenn De Baeremaeker’s rant yesterday about downtowners sabotaging the four-stop subway Scarborough “should have had”, I have absolutely no sympathy. Scarborough could have had an LRT network with lines running by now, but thanks to pig-headed and blatant misrepresentation of the subway vs LRT issue, they will be lucky to even get the subway once its full cost is known. Ottawa showed what is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ottawa showed what is possible.

    In many ways!

    I’ve spent the last couple of hours researching that model. It remains to be seen if all the options of the European one are offered for the Ontario built one, but *apparently* this is a much superior vehicle in every respect v. the Flexities, and vastly more flexible in how it can be tailored to different situations.

    I could post a slew of snippets and links, but suspect Steve will do a blog on it. How far do the options go? There’s even a toilet option offered, indicative of how these can fulfill an RER role (max speed, 105 kph).

    It’s too soon to tell, but by default rather than design, Metrolinx may has stumbled into one of the best choices it has ever made for rail vehicles. As always, the Devil’s in the Details. We don’t know the price yet.

    Steve: I believe that during the original tender for the TTC’s cars, Alstom chose not to bid feeling that “the fix was in” for Bombardier and they wouldn’t waste their money.

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  3. Err, this link “Youtube video of Alstom Citadis cars for Ottawa”, actually links to Oliver Moore’s article in the Globe.

    Steve: Ooops! Thanks for catching this. I have fixed the link.

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  4. The link to the youtube video actually links to the G&M article.

    Steve: Fixed, thanks.

    As for Ottawa, that project had a false start that cost about 5 or 6 years, although in the end, it’s getting a better project that will serve more people, eventually.

    As for ‘about to open’: the opening date for Ottawa’s line has gone from May 2018 to currently undetermined. The project has had its share of setbacks, including a major cave-in closing one of the cities’ key intersections and transit trunks.

    What is more impressive is that the City of Ottawa has stickhandled a second stage of extensions in 3 directions, while not busting their debt ceiling, even though the senior levels of government are much stingier with Ottawa than Toronto, Hamilton, etc.

    And if that wasn’t enough, it’s clear that planners and politicians are starting to treat transit infrastructure as a pipeline, with a 3rd stage under study even before the 2nd phase was designed or funded.

    Toronto won’t recover until it treats transit this way: don’t build lines, build a network, constantly and incrementally.

    Not that Ottawa’s planning is perfect. For instance, it has identified that trip growth will be mostly suburb to suburb, yet is doubly reinforcing a suburb-downtown oriented bus feeder system, in part to funnel travel onto and justify its rail line. Also, Ottawa is not making use of the low-floor Spirit to build at street level at network edges. For instance, it is building down a freeway median in Orleans rather than on the nearby parallel urban arterial for the last few kms, even though the latter would serve more passengers and types of trips.

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  5. All I can say is hurrah! It’s time for someone to stand up and tell Bombardier that they are not the only game in town. Maybe it’s time for Alstom, or even Siemens, to get contracts.

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  6. It still amazes me how much BBD screwed the pooch on this. It’s not like the Flexitys were a brand new design that they were just figuring out: they had been building them for years before the various Ontario orders.

    This isn’t quite as bad as the Target’s Canadian roll-out, but I’m sure in a few years there will be a few business school papers on how not to set up one’s supply chain.

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  7. It will be interesting to see where these LRVs will be assembled. Alstom set up facilities on OC Transpo’s property for what is being built for Ottawa. They could either do the same here or perhaps pay OC Transpo to continue production there for this order, subject to whether OC Transpo will need the space for something else or not.

    I have said it before, but if the TTC still plans on ordering another 60 LRVs that they have an option to extend their current contract for, a call for quotes would send a good message to Bombardier. Perhaps they should do this in December when (if? too early to judge) Bombardier doesn’t keep to the latest schedule.

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  8. I think the most significant aspect here is what it portends for future rail-based transit contracts from Metrolinx and and the TTC. Now that the monopolistic stranglehold of Bombardier has been broken we may see Alstom and Siemens awarded future LRV and RER-EMU orders and perhaps even the line 2 Subway replacement (though I consider that a remote possibility).

    I was pleasantly surprised to see this announcement. It’s time Bombardier realized that even they have to operate like a legitimate business and honour their contractual commitments.

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  9. No one can deny that BBD screwed this up. The reason that Mexican parts were chosen was that BBD can source them cheaper due to NAFTA provisions. At the time the order was made, the CETA was not in force yet. With CETA, it is conceivable that other BBD properties in Europe would be able to supply more precise parts. Romanian parts would cost about the same as Mexican parts. A pat on the back for the Thunder Bay workers who were able to custom fit badly made parts into a final product. Shame on BBD for sourcing parts from an unreliable place.

    Since the Eglinton Cross Town and other tram lines use off the shelf Flexity trams, BBD should at the very least lease tram cars from Europe to Metrolinx while the delays are sorted. Business school papers would definitely criticize the handling of this. With CETA in effect, there would be little duties. The plunging EUR exchange rates would also help. The corporate culture at BBD is questionable. When JAL had problems with their Dash-8 Turboprops, BBD tried to pass the buck. Now BBD is virtually shut out of the Japanese aviation market. Management is trying to run the company a quarter at a time whereas aerospace and rail products require years of relationship.

    Below is my opinion based on human history.

    Over 5000 years of history, when aircraft framers goes out of business, that country never made another aircraft. As Canadians, we must proceed carefully with the future of BBD. Before World War II, Germany and England had a thriving passenger aircraft industry. Now, those two countries have nothing left. If BBD were to let go, it is likely that Canada will never have an aviation industry again. Right now, Canada is in the exclusive club of nations where passenger aircraft are made. They are China, France, United States, Russia, Brazil and Canada.

    Boeing is kept alive with military orders purchased on a cost plus basis. Same with COMAC, Embrarer and Airbus Industries. If the CSeries is successful, it will not only be a great passenger plane. It might be retrofitted as a maritime surveillance plane or an anti submarine plane like the Boeing 737. Tread carefully as an industry and national defense is at stake.

    Steve: That’s all well, but try telling people they should put up with late and shoddy transit vehicles in the name of “national defense”. The big problem with BBD is that it is two separate companies and product lines with one dragging down the other.

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  10. Benny Cheung said: “Before World War II, Germany and England had a thriving passenger aircraft industry. Now, those two countries have nothing left.”

    What? Have you never heard of Airbus?

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  11. Benny Cheung said: Before World War II, Germany and England had a thriving passenger aircraft industry. Now, those two countries have nothing left.

    AFAIK Airbus has an A320 production line in Hamburg and large assemblies for other Airbus planes are manufactured in England.

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  12. Benny: As much as I’d like it to be otherwise, CETA is far from being ratified yet, let alone being in effect.

    Steve M writes: Steve: I believe that during the original tender for the TTC’s cars, Alstom chose not to bid feeling that “the fix was in” for Bombardier and they wouldn’t waste their money.

    I wondered about that. From what I’ve gathered so far, Alstom were the only other possible bidder to provide (effectively) 100% low floor.

    On price, btw, it appears that per passenger carried, the value per cost is the same Alstom v. BBD.

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  13. Benny Cheung: Below is my opinion based on human history. Over 5000 years of history, when aircraft framers goes out of business, that country never made another aircraft.

    But aircrafts were invented only slightly over 100 years ago. I think that you have to review your human history.

    Benny Cheung: As Canadians, we must proceed carefully with the future of BBD. Before World War II, Germany and England had a thriving passenger aircraft industry.

    As many others have pointed out above, your human history is incorrect here. Your bias for Bombardier is so obvious. What’s important here is that we need to open the Eglinton line in 2021 and not 2041 (the earliest Bombardier can deliver based on their track record).

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  14. Calvin Henry-Cotnam: I have said it before, but if the TTC still plans on ordering another 60 LRVs that they have an option to extend their current contract for, a call for quotes would send a good message to Bombardier.

    I can support more money being spent on streetcars ONLY IF they are not from Bombardier. Give me Siemens or Alstom or anyone other than Bombardier or give me buses.

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  15. Ottawa is not without its fair share of transit lunacy. The could’ve had a 27 km LRT up and running in 2009-2010 if the elected leaders of the day had not scuttled those plans. It’s good to see that a few lawsuits and a decade later they’re back on track.

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  16. Airbus Industrie is based in Toulouse, France. Yes, they have production elsewhere, The point is that to design, build and integrate an airframe is not something that every nation can do. There is no English plane built like the Hawker Trident anymore. Remember the Junkers Ju52? That was a fine plane breaking speed records during the interwar years. Building components for an aircraft is different. Do Canadians want to give that up? This is the what nations aspire to do as it is the pinnacle. Right now, C checks on Air Canada planes are done in Mexico and the United States. We are slowly loosing that sector on the low end already.

    A320 even the NEO version is not a really modern plane. By the next decade, it will have to be redesigned to remain competitive. There is a large chance that assembly will be done elsewhere. The modern planes like the A380 and A350XWB are assembled in France. If Bombardier goes, what can Canada assemble? Suppose Boeing setup a 737 line in Canada, will that create the highest paying jobs? If Canada wants the leading edge jobs, Bombardier needs to be supported either through military contracts or rail projects. Afterwards, Export Development Canada will need to help Bombardier by giving customers below market interest rate loans. All aerospace companies are like this.

    Steve Saines, the Canada Trade Commissioner Service is doing sessions and promoting the CETA already. In fact the next session will be on May 16 in Montreal. Strange that they at promoting something that has not been ratified.

    I am raising the point here not because I work in aerospace assembly. Emotions can make irreversible decisions. If Bombardier is let go, there might not be another chance to restart this sector. Look at the work China and Japan took to launch their aerospace industries. COMAC C919 and the Mitsubishi MRJ are delayed far beyond their expected EIS dates. Those nations have more money to throw around than Canada. Right now, it cost $3 billion to launch the CSeries even though the aerospace industry in Canada is already established. When the supply chains are not there and need to built, it will cost much more than $3 billion. History shows that when an airframer goes bust, they never come back. Even though England makes composite wings today, no one dreams of an English built plane like the Trident anymore.

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  17. Benny writes: Strange that they at promoting something (CETA) that has not been ratified.

    I replied: I truly suggest you do some reading.

    And I guess best I declare a conflict of interest on this, I have a younger brother who designs wing roots for Airbus in Filton, outside Bristol, UK. Spare me the rant.

    And Google “CETA 28 nations ratify”. Enjoy the suspense.

    BBD is most likely facing a corporate break-up, and I was musing about who gets to buy the new Millhaven plant in an earlier post, and decided to erase it. The irony of the BBD and Siemens possible merger that would have left Thales as an orphan in the market was just too ripe and delicious knowing that Thales may be left standing tall, while the landing gear on the ‘CSeries’ collapses and takes BBD with it.

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  18. Won’t this lead to a substantial surplus of LRV’s? especially since Metrolinx said they won’t be cancelling the Bombardier order, and two of the lines for that order have since been cancelled, and I don’t see a good chance of funding for any more lines anytime soon. In fact even before this new order i thought there were already too many vehicles on the way.

    Steve: This issue has been thrashed through in a Twitter thread. The question, for which I need to get an answer from Metrolinx, is whether their Bombardier contract is firm for the entire order, or for a base number of cars plus optional add-ons. Given the uncertainty of the LRT plans when it was signed, I would be surprised if Metrolinx had committed for a fleet they might not be able to use because this would require funding that was not in place.

    If the contract really is base+options, then this entire debate about where the LRVs might go is moot.

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  19. I suspect I’m missing something, but where are the “extra” vehicles going to go? What I mean is, let’s presume Bombardier does in fact produce all ~180 vehicles close enough on schedule to avoid any contractual failure. Now we have an extra ~60 vehicles from Alstom. Given the original 180 were for Finch, Eglinton, Scarborough, and Sheppard – and the latter of those two are dead in the water as far as LRT is concerned – I get the feeling we’ll have too many LRT vehicles? I may have missed an announcement where Metrolinx downsized it’s original BBD order, and I suspect Hamilton makes a nice dent, but it still seems like we’ll be in a bit of a pickle if both Alstom and BBD come through. Though having extra vehicles to go towards crosstown expansion / revive sheppard east is never a bad thing! Maybe even Scarborough will luck out with some new LRT 😉

    Steve: See my reply to the previous comment.

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  20. I read in one article that some structure changes might be needed on the Crosstown line to accomodate Alstom’s vehicles because they are bigger than Bombardier’s.

    Is there any indication of delay in opening the Crosstown?

    Steve: The Crosstown stations are long enough to hold three BBD cars or two Alstom cars.

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  21. The Ottawa cars are 157′ 5″ long or 1.5 times the bombardier cars and the have 7 double doors so a 2 car train would be over 300′ long and have 14 double doors whereas it would take 3 bombardier cars which would have 6 double doors and 6 single doors. I think that the ALstom cars are a better for for the Crosstown line. I have ridden these cars in Nice France and they are great. They are lengthening the Nice cars by adding two extra sections.

    I learned today that when Metrolinx took over the TTC contract for the Transit City cars they changed the specifications of the control system so it would interface better with the control system in the subway portion and talk to traffic control systems to allow ATO. This is why the software development for it is taking longer but you think they would have it figured out by now.

    Bombardier also had to change the design of the cabs because they can get damaged loading them onto the special transport truck. Apparently the ends of the two cars in Kingston for testing and one end of the car in Waterloo will have to be replaced.

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  22. Steve said: Given the uncertainty of the LRT plans when it was signed, I would be surprised if Metrolinx had committed for a fleet they might not be able to use because this would require funding that was not in place.

    On the other hand, considering that the TTC has been musing about the expanded order of about 60 Flexitys, Metrolinx may be thinking that they can negotiate with Bombardier to change part of the order into additional legacy fleet Flexitys for the TTC to avoid being overloaded with “spare” LRV’s.

    Steve: The TTC kept some headroom in their order for add-on cars.

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  23. Calvin Henry-Cotnam | May 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    “It will be interesting to see where these LRVs will be assembled. Alstom set up facilities on OC Transpo’s property for what is being built for Ottawa. They could either do the same here or perhaps pay OC Transpo to continue production there for this order, subject to whether OC Transpo will need the space for something else or not.”

    I believe that they are being assembled in Ottawa’s Maintenance Storage Facility which will not be available for use by Alstom for the Metrolinx order. Rumor has it the have aquired a facility closer to Toronto.

    “I have said it before, but if the TTC still plans on ordering another 60 LRVs that they have an option to extend their current contract for, a call for quotes would send a good message to Bombardier. Perhaps they should do this in December when (if? too early to judge) Bombardier doesn’t keep to the latest schedule.”

    They have to put the order in when the 60th Flexity is delivered to get the bid price. TTC says they are keeping to this schedule and the defects are fixed. If the TTC were to place an open tender they would not be able to invoke the option, they would end up with two types of equipment with two sets of spares. It would be difficult for another company to bid on a non-standard car and have them ready in time. Metrolinx cars are basically a standard design.

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  24. Robert Wightman summed it up best: I think that the Alstom cars are better for the Crosstown line.

    I couldn’t agree more and kudos to Metrolinx for finally making the right decision.

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  25. Will Alstom build the cars in Quebec? Sorel-Tracy? Point Saint Charles? Or is another global “effort” in the works?

    Steve: There has been talk of a facility in Toronto where some work may be done, but no details yet. The Ottawa cars are already “global” efforts, but clearly by a company that knows how to do this sort of thing.

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  26. Steve: The Ottawa cars are already “global” efforts, but clearly by a company that knows how to do this sort of thing.

    Yes, Alstom is very competent and Bombardier is an incompetent embarrassment. When non-Canadians tell me that Bombardier is Canadian, I tell them that it is Quebecois.

    Like

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