Bombardier, late in delivering Waterloo's LRT cars, is on Hamilton's shortlist too

Metrolinx has shortlisted three consortiums who want to build and run Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) system — and one includes the much-criticized company Bombardier.

The province will also give $5.9M for affordable housing in the LRT corridor

There will be "very clear objectives on completion on time, and a very strong focus on delivery," says Phil Vester, Metrolinx president, of Hamilton's light-rail transit construction. On the right is Chris Gauer, president of major projects with Infrastructure Ontario. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Metrolinx has shortlisted three consortiums who want to build and run Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) system — and one includes the much-criticized company Bombardier.

The agency and Infrastructure Ontario issued a request for proposals this week to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the $1-billion project.

Three consortiums of about a dozen companies each will bid. One of them — Ei8ht Transit — includes Bombardier as part of the construction, design, operation and maintenance, as well as an equity partner.

Bombardier hasn't been a popular name in GTHA transit lately. The company missed a target for Toronto street cars, and ultimately shipped unfinished cars to meet the deadline. Metrolinx ended up reducing its order with the Montreal company from 182 rails to 76.

That's created an issue with Waterloo's LRT system too. The company was supposed to deliver 14 LRT vehicles there by December but was late "a couple of times," a regional councillor says. 

Bombardier missed a deadline to deliver Toronto street cars last year.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster says this contract will be different because Bombardier is part of a collective.

"Bombardier will in effect be a partner with other equity partners," he said at McMaster University Friday.

And there will be "very clear objectives on completion on time, and a very strong focus on delivery."

The RFP is a key step in answering many questions about Hamilton LRT.

For example, the bids will determine how much it costs to build and run the system. They're also key to starting construction in 2019. That needs to happen to launch the system in 2024.

The project can still be killed, but it's getting harder and harder to do so. Metrolinx has already spent about $100 million on Hamilton LRT, Mayor Fred Eisenberger says. It has also bought — or is in the process of buying — 40 properties along the line. Some fear Metrolinx would sue the city if it backs out now.

Waterloo Region is awaiting Bombardier cars for its own LRT system. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

But the agency says signing a master agreement, which will happen this year, is a point of no return. Doug Ford, Ontario PC leader, added a new wrinkle this month when he said a Tory government would give Hamilton $1 billion for infrastructure whether to builds LRT or not.

That pledge loomed over Eisenberger's comments Friday.

"There isn't a billion dollars lying around to attach to this project," he said. "It's a financed project over time." And "in my view, it doesn't serve us well to do potholes."

Friday's announcement also included $5.9 million from the province for new or refurbished affordable and social housing along the 14-kilometre line.

That money is above and beyond the $1 billion to build LRT, said Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. And it's contingent on the LRT project being built.

Here's the list of bidders:

CityLine Transit Group

  • Equity providers: ACS, Aecon, CRH, TIAA.
  • Constructors: Dragados, Aecon, Dufferin. (Pro-LRT councillor Lloyd Ferguson is the former head of Dufferin Construction.)
  • Design team: Parsons, HDR, Amec, RDHA.
  • Operation, maintenance and rehabilitation: ACS, Aecon, CRH, Serco.

Ei8ht Transit

  • Equity providers: EllisDon, Fluor, Bombardier.
  • Constructors: Fluor Canada, EllisDon Civil, Bombardier.
  • Design team: WSP/MMM, Hatch, Gh3, Bombardier.
  • Operation, maintenance and rehabilitation: EllisDon Facilities Services, Bombardier.


  • Equity providers: Astaldi, John Laing, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Amico, Transdev.
  • Constructors: Asaldi, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Amico, Bot.
  • Design team: IBI, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Daoust Lestage, Morrison Herschfield, Exp Services, Arcadis.
  • Operation, maintenance and rehabilitation: Transdev, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Astaldi.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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