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As Via Rail prepares to announce winning bid for trains, Garneau warns Bombardier can't be favoured

Free trade agreements with Europe and the United States prevent Via Rail from favouring Bombardier in the awarding of contracts, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says.

Bombardier looks set to lose out on $1B contract for 32 trains to travel in Windsor-Montreal corridor

Via Rail wants to replace its aging trains with 32 new ones for the Windsor-Montreal corridor. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Free trade agreements with Europe and the United States prevent Via Rail from favouring Bombardier in the awarding of contracts, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says.

Garneau reacted this morning to a report that Via Rail is preparing to award a $1-billion contract for new trains to the German firm Siemens AG.

La Presse reported the Crown Corporation is negotiating the terms of the contract with Siemens after its submission beat out Bombardier Transportation and third-place Spanish company Talgo Inc.

Garneau did not confirm the report and said the contract tendering process is not finished.

Via Rail also denied it had yet reached a firm deal for the contract for 32 new trains for use in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.

Via Rail had already ruled out in March the possibility of requiring local content in its request for proposals. The railway is seeking new fuel-efficient, bi-directional trains to replace rolling stock that is at least 35 years old.

The Windsor-Quebec City Corridor represents 94 per cent of Via Rail's ridership.

Bombardier was hoping the Via contract would provide several years of work at its factory in La Pocatiè​re, Que. The company this month announced it will cut 5,000 workers worldwide, half of them in Quebec.

Radio-Canada reports that Quebec Premier François​ Legault has been lobbying the Trudeau cabinet in the hope of getting Via Rail to change its decision.

With files from CBC News