Bombardier clinches big deal for new commuter trains

Bombardier has landed a $386-million contract with Quebec to build bi-level trains for Montreal's public transit system.

Deal will save jobs, increase public transit use, says Quebec Liberal government

Bombardier has landed a $386-million contract with the Province of Quebec to build bi-level commuter trains for Montreal's public transit system.

The contract includes an order for 30rail carsand options on an additional 130 cars, in what Transport Minister Julie Boulet called the "most important investment in commuter trains in Quebec's history."

The stainless steel passenger cars will allow an additional 43,000 people to commute from bedroom communities around Montreal's east end, Boulet said at a press conference Tuesday.

It will also help the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) increase suburban ridership by as much as 16 per cent, the agency said.

The trains will feature two levels of seating zones with 142 seats, and an overall capacity of up to 200 passengers. The cars will also include storage room for bicycles.The trains will be equipped with GPS technology to make next-station announcements and notify passenger in case of emergencies.An audio-visual passenger information system will also allow passengers and crew to connect with each other.

The passenger cars will be designed to operate on existing commuter rail tracks operated by the AMT, and will replace some of the aging single-level trains already in use, agency president Joël Gauthier said.

At least 32 of the new trains will be dedicated to a new eastbound line called Train de l'est, which will serve eastern Montreal and the Repentigny-Mascouche region.

The other 128 trains will be deployed on existing commuters lines, including Deux-Montagnes, Dorion-Rigaud, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Delson-Candiac and Blainville-St-Jérôme.

The bi-level trains will be built at Bombardier's La Pocatière factory, which will help maintain 600 jobs at the plant east of Quebec City, and will allow the company to recall some 50 workers, Boulet said.

The deal will also pump money into the Quebec economy, said Natural Resources Minister Claude Béchard, who represents the La Pocatière region at the provincial legislature.

"Some 185 Canadian contractors will be used in the project, including some 130 Quebec companies," hesaid at the press conference.

The La Pocatière plant produces similar train cars for the New Jersey Transit agency in the United States.

Quebec put out a call for tenders on the commuter trains last winter. At Tuesday's announcement, Boulet said Bombardier won the process; it was the only company to submit an offer.

The bid included a provision that 65 per cent of labour and materials be Canadian.

The province will cover 75 per cent of the project's costs, with the AMT covering the rest.

The trains will be ready for service in 2009.

With files from the Canadian Press