Original Published on Nov 14, 2022 at 22:44

$2.3 billion for 480 Toronto subway cars as Ontario competes with off-shore bidders

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Thunder Bay’s Alstom plant has its sights set on a $2.3-billion contract that involves the production of 480 subway cars to replace end-of-life cars for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which issued a call for proposals early this month.

Even a portion of the contract would mean plenty of work for the Thunder Bay plant.

Alstom is one of four companies eligible to bid on the contract, along with Asian-based players CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co. in China, Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in Japan, and Hyundai Rotem Company in South Korea.

Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075, is cautiously optimistic for a portion of the work to come to Thunder Bay, citing hurdles ahead and the 25 per cent Canadian content policy built into the contract. 

“I wish it was a lot more but that’s what we’ve got,” he said of the 25 per cent. “The Chinese have been really brutal in underbidding to get Canadian (contracts).”

Pasqualino added that it’s still early in the bidding war. 

Although the City of Toronto has kicked in its $624-million portion of the project, the TTC is still negotiating with both provincial and federal partners with discussions expected to continue into early 2023. The earliest delivery of cars would begin in 2027 with completion in 2033.

“And we still have to win it,” Pasqualino said. “If Alstom wins it, we still need to get as much of that (production ) here in Thunder Bay. I know that Alstom is interested in keeping people working in Thunder Bay but they also have a commitment in Quebec to do a certain amount of work to keep upwards of 450 people on the job there.”

Currently, there are 150 people working at the Thunder Bay Alstom plant and Pasqualino says they are slowly starting to call others back.

“We’re talking about a handful at a time right now,” he said. 

Work at the plant continues with bilevel refurbishment on 94 Metrolinx cars and 60 light-rail vehicle cars for the Toronto Transit Commission.

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario

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