Home Bombardier to get metro deal after four years of negotiations

Bombardier to get metro deal after four years of negotiations

by admin October 10, 2010

An agreement was finally reached between Bombardier-Alstom and the Quebec government on the replacement of Montreal’s outdated metro cars, according to a Ministry of Transportation spokesperson.

“The government has informed Bombardier that it will sign the deal within the next 30 days with the right to extend it by another 30,” said Caroline Larose, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation.

According to a recent report on the Société de transport de Montreal’s website, Michel Labrecque, president of the STM council, visited the Bombardier factory in La Pocatière upon invitation from Minister of Transport Sam Hamad along with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. This new deal, when signed, would give Bombardier the green light to build 342 cars with the possibility of up to 126 additional ones.

However, there have been some concerns and complaints that the Charest government gave the job to Bombardier too quickly, without opening a call to tenders.

Quebec’s national assembly actually passed a bill on the matter, Bill 116, which will allow the STM to buy metro cars from Bombardier-Alstom without any judiciary issues. “Normally, any company that falls in the World Trade Organization would have to follow this procedure,” Larose said, referring to a proper call to tenders. “But the STM isn’t part of this organization and therefore it is in the government’s hands. They are free to chose who they think is best for the project.”

According to Spanish railway firm Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles and Chinese firm Zhuzhou, the suspension of the call to tenders as a result of the province’s clear interest in Bombardier affected their own opportunity to present their proposals. They claim that when it came time for submission of their bids, there had been a sudden halt implemented.

“It is since May of 2006 that the government started the bidding for the project” Larose explained, justifying the decision. “After four years of negotiations, the government decided that Bombardier was the right choice for the project” she added.

There have also been mixed reactions within the provincial government. Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said that Charest’s announcement was “good news” and that it was urgent to replace the aging cars. However, Vision Montréal leader Louise Harel has predicted a rather grim outlook, arguing that taxpayers should be concerned about the way the contracts are being handled to make sure there wouldn’t be any tax-hikes. There has been a request by opposition councillors to hand in an outline of these expenditures.

Montreal’s metro system was first inaugurated Oct. 14, 1966 a year before the city hosted Expo “67. At the time, Montreal was only the eighth city in North America to have an underground commute system. Since then, the STM has only used two models of cars, the MR-63, built by Canadian Vickers, and Bombardier’s MR-73.

Charest claims that the new Bombardier project will provide 775 jobs for Quebecers and will benefit the public. The project is projected to be complete by 2014.

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