Bombardier files injunction against Metrolinx after being blocked from bidding on new contract

Bombardier is seeking an injunction against Metrolinx after the regional transit authority declared the Canadian transportation giant ineligible to bid on an upcoming contract, which Bombardier estimates will be worth more than $2 billion.

'Unfair, unreasonable' decision excludes Bombardier from $2B contract, company says

Bombardier is seeking an injunction after Metrolinx excluded it from bidding on a contract concerning its GO Regional Express Rail Expansion. (Canadian Press)

Bombardier is seeking an injunction against Metrolinx after the regional transit authority declared the Canadian transportation giant ineligible to bid on an upcoming contract, which Bombardier estimates will be worth more than $2 billion.

Metrolinx announced a Request for Qualification (RFQ) on July 21, which is a search for a new, experienced operator to help them through their next phase of system upgrades.

In a statement, the transit authority said it needs an experienced operator with the skills to help it move towards its goals, including the implementation of the GO Regional Express Rail (RER) plan and the addition of four times the amount of train trips per week, from 1,500 to 6,000. The RFQ process allows Metrolinx to identify those interested and qualified. 

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said Bombardier was excluded because the first half of the awarded contract will involve the operator conducting a full review of the operations, maintenance and services provided by the transit authority.

"Our current operations and service providers, like Bombardier ... couldn't oversee this function objectively. So that's why Bombardier will not be eligible to fulfil that role," she said.

All companies involved with Metrolinx maintenance, operations excluded

CBC Toronto has learned CN, CP and PNR Railworks are also excluded from the bidding process. Those companies are also currently involved in the maintenance of trains or tracks for Metrolinx, so they would have a conflict of interest when putting together a review, Aikins said.

Bombardier filed an application Tuesday for the decision to be reviewed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

"Bombardier believes this decision to be improper, arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable, and contrary to Metrolinx's legal obligations and public duties, as a procurement agency, to provide fair and equal access," the transit company said in a statement.

Bombardier is asking for its designation as an ineligible bidder to be removed, and for the court to extend the timeline for the contract bidding process so the company will be able to prepare its own submission.

The original timeline to bid on the contract gave companies a month, until Aug. 28, to have their submissions ready, but after concerns over a tight timeline from potential bidders, Metrolinx extended that deadline to Sept. 12.

Bombardier's current contract does not include oversight of operations, which is what will be awarded in this contract.

The current contract does include maintenance roles and driving Metrolinx trains, but it expires in 2023. Those specific roles could still be renewed, Aikins said. 

"Bombardier could work with this operator to be the drivers of the trains," she said. "We wouldn't want to lose that experience that they have."

As for Bombardier's accusation that Metrolinx unfairly excluded them, Aikins said she'd leave those arguments for the court. 

Second injunction this year

It's not the first time Bombardier has taken Metrolinx to court.

A judge ruled in April that the transit agency could not get out of a $770-million contract with Bombardier for light rail vehicles. 

Metrolinx wanted to get out of the contract because of repeated delays from Bombardier in living up to its end of the bargain to supply 182 vehicles for a planned transit expansion.

Bombardier filed the lawsuit in February after Metrolinx accused the company last summer of being in breach of the contract it signed in 2010. 

An injunction was granted, preventing Metrolinx from cancelling the deal.