Bombardier shuffles Toronto streetcar production to shrink delays
By Ross Marowits, THE CANADIAN PRESSGeneral Automotive Bombardier streetcar TTC
The company will move light rail projects for Metrolinx to its facility in Kingston, ON.
MONTREAL — Bombardier is hoping to get its Toronto streetcar contract back on track and prevent delays at two other Ontario transit projects by shifting production among four sites in Ontario, Quebec and Mexico.
The company will relieve pressure in Thunder Bay, Ont., by shifting light rail projects for Metrolinx in Greater Toronto and the Kitchener-Waterloo region to its facility in Kingston, Ont.
Thunder Bay also makes bi-level cars for GO Transit and is completing a Toronto subway contract.
The plant in La Pocatiere, Que., will lend a hand by taking on work transferred from an operation in Mexico where there have been quality issues. A second production line for the TTC streetcars will be added at a location to be identified at the end of May.
“We’re taking bold and decisive action,” spokesman Marc-Andre Lefebvre said in an interview Friday.
“We’re doing everything necessary to hasten the deliveries and make sure we honour our commitments.”
The changes will result in the layoff of 60 workers in Thunder Bay, unless it becomes the home of the second streetcar line. However, it will preserve 60 jobs in Kingston once production of metro cars destined for Kuala Lumpur ends later this year. Up to 50 workers will be hired in La Pocatiere, which is making Montreal subway cars.
The new president of the division overseeing transport in the Americas disclosed the revised schedule during a meeting with TTC officials on Wednesday. Bombardier said it will deliver 16 more vehicles this year, raising the total number of streetcar deliveries to 31.
The TTC has said 73 streetcars had been slated to be delivered by the end of 2016 according to the original schedule.
Meanwhile, Bombardier plans to deliver an additional 40 streetcars in 2017, 76 in 2018 and 57 in 2019 to fulfil the commitment for 204 streetcars as part of the $1.2-billion contract.
Although pilot light rail vehicles have faced a few months of delays, the changes will ensure the production vehicles for Metrolink and Kitchener-Waterloo remain on schedule, said Lefebvre.
Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) is scheduled to deliver 182 light rail vehicles to Metrolinx starting in 2018 under a $770 million contract announced in 2010. Five production vehicles for the $66-million Kitchener-Waterloo project are being built in Thunder Bay, while Kingston will make the remaining nine.
Lefebvre said Bombardier is tackling problems in Mexico and is deploying 26 experts from around the world to address welding problems.
Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said a couple of weeks ago that the company would do whatever is needed to deliver the streetcars following “disappointing” delays that prompted scathing criticism from the Toronto Transit Commission.
The country’s largest transit authority declined to comment on Bombardier’s production changes but said it hopes they will ensure timely deliveries.
“We just want the streetcars,” said spokesman Kadeem Griffiths.